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Chamomile
 Tuesday, October 04 2011 @ 08:58 PM UTC (Read 9611 times)  
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So Improbable Island is supposed to be a TV show, and in fact the good ratings strike me as being pretty much the only reason to keep the Island going at all, considering it's been approximately one year since the S2 timeline started, which comes out to about half a decade in-game, and the only difference is that half the population are now Jokers and new Improbable monsters keep showing up in the jungle, so if anything the Improbability contamination is only getting worse. But until it spreads to the mainland (and with something like Improbability there's really no way to gauge if or when that will happen at all) it's still good television.

It doesn't really feel like a TV show, though. On the Failboat, the Watcher talks about how every minute you remain, someone else is claiming your glory...But I never really get the impression that killing monsters in the Jungle gives me any glory at all. Yeah, I guess some contestants are more popular than others with the viewers back home, but we have no idea which ones, so who cares? The attitude on the island is that the Improbable War is an actual war and the viewers can keep themselves entertained for all any of the Islanders care, and personally I think it'd be more entertaining if it was extremely visible that as far as the rest of the world is concerned, you're just the show they watch when they get home from work.

I'd recommend some kind of new Fame system. Fame is a character attribute that's kind of like hat size. It does absolutely nothing, but there's a leaderboard for it and someone will try to get to the top of it just because it's there. You get fame for killing monsters and you lose fame whenever you get failboated for any reason (the failboat isn't televised and viewers will quickly forget you once they stop watching you), along with 5-10% of your total every 24 hours. Higher fame for higher Drive ranks, and also possibly for certain races (it would make a lot of sense for Jokers and Kittymorphs to be more popular than Zombies and Midgets as a rule, but I'm not certain that encouraging players to cluster around already popular races even more would be wise), and killing the Drive could give a big Fame boost. A building in Improbable Central would house the leaderboards, and would also give out quick little anecdotes about your fame on the mainland whenever you're past a certain threshold, like the comments Seth gives you on your charm when you ask about your manliness. Like if whatever magazine replaced fanfic.net post-EMP is holding a competition to see who can write the best slashfic about you.


 
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Matthew
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 05:19 AM UTC  
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Quote by: Chamomile

this idea



I like this a whole lot.


 
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Swede
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 06:06 AM UTC  
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I like the idea too. Big Grin

Though how to implement it this far in S2?
I doubt CMJ has an overview how often everybody gotten boated in total?


 
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spandex
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 06:44 AM UTC  
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While I'll leave the discussion of gameplay and mechanics to others that both care and understand its implications better, I feel compelled to respond to your post. I've just spent the last several months immersed in a plot that has large parts written from the Network's (the show's) point of view. You'll see 'Tiresias Reels' updates regularly in the wiki (shameless plug, I guess). My co-writers and I have discussed the notion of 'fame' and its effects at length. It's fascinating.

Personally, I find the idea that the reality tv contestants have no idea of their fame (or how they're edited, portrayed or how they're perceived by the audience) compelling. One of the things that is prevalent in current reality tv (and I only speak for UK programmes) is that it is all now done for fame. The contestants try their best to carefully manufacture themselves in order to be famous once they're finished the show. Our island characters have no possibility of returning to the mainland, so how does that effect their feelings about fame and how they assume they're being perceived back home? I think the question of how your char reacts to the fact his/her life is filmed (and edited to tell a story made up by the Network) is a good roleplay question.

I agree with your premise that it's very much in the Network's interest to keep the show interesting and - as you said- maintain good ratings. Because this is set some time in the future (2090s, I believe?), we have to make some assumptions about the larger world, which would tell us who our audience is and what they want to watch. In the plot I've been part of, we've started with the question, 'What sort of audience would enjoy watching people abducted against their will and thrown into a war they'll never win in a place full of Improbability', to try and answer that question. Also, we've assumed there is very careful editing to help keep the show popular (just like what happens in reality tv today).

If we assume our characters can see the Hall of Fame boards (can they? I don't see any physical description of where they are), they'll see their Charm and Toughness and a bunch of other measures (most of which tell how successful you are at fighting). If we assume these have been put in place by the Network, they must have figured they'd inspire the contestants to behave in ways that increase ratings. I play it that my char doesn't know her 'stats' at all. She doesn't know what 'rank' is, nor has she kept track of how many times she's killed the Drive. While the charm and toughness and rank (etc) mechanics don't exist to my char, they have effect on her life, and she finds various ways to explain them.

I've just re-read the Failboat gametext. I'd argue it's not explicitly said that the Failboat isn't televised. Could be, if people want to watch it. (The news feeds of failings and successes that you see below clan text and below the fold in News implies it is). Regardless, from the text (and game mechanics), the Network wants the contestants out fighting. (Or to believe the Network wants them out fighting....)

Fame is a tricksy thing to measure. Would a contestant that refuses to fight at all have low ratings? Again, we have to make assumptions about what the Network does with such a contestant (ie. are they screened on TV anyway). Both heros and villains can pull in ratings. Not sure also why certain races would be inherently more highly rated than others. Are serial and spectacular failures (failors) low rated?

From the point of view of ii-the-game experience, the most 'famous' characters are moreorless ones that stick around, interact lots with others in public spaces, and are interesting characters involved in interesting stories. I don't believe this can be measured easily. Definitely should be encouraged, as has been the topic of other posts here.

One thing your idea does support is activity, which is positive.

I've gone on long enough. Interesting topic. Thanks for writing the post.




 
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Chamomile
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:03 AM UTC  
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Any system is going to fall apart at edge cases, and I was more concerned with making the Fame system easy to code by tying it to things we already track. So, yeah, it's not really an accurate reflection of what a human audience might be interested in, but it is an accurate reflection of who'd be the most entertaining out of all the people who are playing the game the normal way. People who sit around Kittania chatting don't make good television, people who are in the jungle all the time do. And the "guy who refuses to fight" would be popular for, like, one episode, and then people would forget all about him until something terrible happens to him, where he'll be the center of attention for exactly one more episode.

As far as races are concerned, it's just that some races make better television than others. Kittymorphs would almost certainly be at the top of that list, because sex sells and Kittymorphs are as close as any race comes to being made of sex on the Island. Jokers would be popular with viewers for the same reason they're popular with players even after the novelty has worn off; the visual is just really, really cool. Classy and mysterious also sells. On the other hand, Zombies and Mutants are both really really ugly and would thus occupy the bottom tiers, while Midgets are extremely unpleasant and would thus be less popular in general. Clever editing could ensure that Midgets never got overexposed, which would keep their abrasiveness amusing instead of annoying, but that means less airtime. Humans and Robots don't really have any strong swings for popularity one way or another.


 
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Allardyce
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:18 AM UTC  
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I don't see how this is easy to code or necessary compared to what we've got. Between Charm (likability on the Island), Watcher favour (better for Humans, Kittymorphs and Jokers) and the Hall of Fame (on which your rank won't improve if you sit around Kitt doing nothing), how is the abstract concept of "Fame" not adequately covered?

The Island DOES remind you that it's a show, with the cameras, the Watcher, post-defeat interviews, scenes showing folks at home wagering or crying or commenting over your defeat... Then there's the various Jungle monsters that remind you, like interviewers and fans.

This is a reality show though, so while you live out your daily life, the cameras are watching. But that's as connected to the outside world as you are.

I think your idea is ambitious, but unnecessary, difficult, and a bit impractical.


 
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spandex
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:27 AM UTC  
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I can think of famous characters that never drive kill.
Watching the same old people keep returning to the same old monsters for yet another DK must get really boring to watch, tv-wise.
I really dislike the stereotypes about race (though 'charm' disagrees with me, and supports you), and again, roleplay-wise some of the most interesting and famous characters aren't the races you mentioned.
I can look at leaderboards and see dead accounts on top. Your activity idea would correct that.
Obviously it's tricky to always keep gameplay and roleplay in line. I'm coming at your post almost entirely from a non-gameplayer's point of view, so perhaps I'm not really the best person to comment further, but I do find some of the logical premises of your notion of Fame making presumptions I don't agree with.


 
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spandex
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:35 AM UTC  
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People who sit around Kittania chatting don't make good television

Chat shows. Are. Huge.


 
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Omega
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 08:10 AM UTC  
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Well, you see this. Fame is exactly what is handled in the Hall of Fame. A way to look at it would be requesting a more detailed Hall of Fame and a "Score" for it. People who do things to an extreme are most usually popular.


There are two secrets to success. The second one is to never reveal all your secrets.
 
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dizzyizzy
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 03:16 PM UTC  
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I've wondered about how the airtime for the tv show is filled, myself. Is the entire timeslot filled with combat? I doubt it is, myself. People are people, and an emp isn't going to change that. What gets higher ratings, Jersey Shore or your run-of-the-Mill MMA fight on versus network? Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Monday Night RAW? In II, the producers have the unique situation of having both the violence a niche population craves, and the mindless, idiotic drivel a different niche craves. How do they balance it? Two different shows? Cutting between the different areas? This makes fame much harder to measure, since sitting around in kittania can bring more fame than fighting in the jungle.


 
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Chamomile
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 04:52 PM UTC  
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If this idea proves difficult to code, it's because existing code has created some kind of snare somewhere. Coding this system in a vacuum would take about an hour. Seriously, you need exactly one new variable to track, then add a line of code for calculating how much you get from a fight, which might be time-consuming if it requires editing each monster entry individually, but shouldn't be difficult anyway (and adding one line of code to even, say, two hundred monster entries would still be no more than one or two hour's worth of effort, not at all massive compared to what a real coding project will cost). Add a bunch of nested if/else if's where whatever variable already keeps track of what race you are also provides certain multipliers, and that's if the race thing gets used (IF playerrace=kittymorph THEN famemultiplier=1.5 ELSEIF playerrace=human THEN famemultplier=1 and so on and so forth). There's already a system that watches to see if you get Failboated, so you just need to add a line of code there that shaves off a percentage of your Fame just like it already shaves off a percentage of your XP. Vanilla LotGD is set up such that setting up new buildings in towns is extremely easy, and I've actually done that myself, so I can definitively say that it shouldn't be a problem unless CMJ has really been mucking around with the system in order to make it less flexible.

But concerning this specifically:

The Island DOES remind you that it's a show, with the cameras, the Watcher, post-defeat interviews, scenes showing folks at home wagering or crying or commenting over your defeat... Then there's the various Jungle monsters that remind you, like interviewers and fans.


No. This is the opposite of true. The Island is currently in sort of an uncanny valley, but for immersion. It pops out to remind you that it's supposed to be a TV show just often enough to make it difficult to ignore how it doesn't feel like you're on a TV show at all. I mean, most shows have some kind of competition besides just the final one, yet Improbable Island apparently has exactly one prize and everyone gets it as soon as anyone finishes the game, something which a lot of people accept as impossible by their second DK (and thanks to meta-gaming, an improbably large number of them accept it as impossible immediately because we, as players, don't even want the Drive to be permanently killed).

The cameras seem more Orwellian than commercial, the Watcher is supposed to be a terrifying and intimidating Big Brother figure, not a reality show host, post-defeat interviews are after defeating the Drive I assume? In which case that's not common at all (once every three or four days at most), I've yet to encounter one scene of the folks back home, and I've run into more D&D monsters in the jungle than show-based ones, yet I don't get the feeling I'm playing D&D. Honestly, sans the cameras and the Watcher, this reads like a list of things the game would be better off removing entirely, because a few extremely occasional, feeble gestures towards an unnecessary premise are not improving the game.


 
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Caleb
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 05:32 PM UTC  
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Unless I'm mistaken, there used to be a Glory statistic which sounds like it might have fulfilled a similar function. It was, uh, a little before my time, so perhaps somebody who remembers could explain what it was (and why it's no longer around today)? Aside from that, I'm not sure what the proposed Fame stat would add to the game. There's already a HoF section for the total number of monsters killed, one for DK speed and another recording the number of contestant Boatings in a life (something that's also in bios); I don't think a 'monsters killed MINUS X for every Y units of time and Z number of failures' would bring anything particularly new to the table.

Immersionwise: II isn't a game show, it's a reality show. You don't get prizes for killing the Drive, or being popular, or raking in the viewers -- what you do get is the opportunity to be pummelled by stronger monsters for a reward, because that makes for better TV in itself, but beyond your occasional contact with the Watcher you don't get any feedback from the guys running the place. And why should you? There are thousands of people on the island. I shouldn't imagine they have time to drop by and pat you on the back, or sit down and ask you how you feel about your recent victory against the Drive/promotion to Most Attractive Contestant/Skronky Potting etc.

Additionally: OOC, most (I'm guessing? I don't know exact figures) of the monsters are written by players, so naturally there are going to be pop culture references and things that aren't relevant to the central premise of the game. IC, the monsters are spewed out by the Improbability Drive -- it was there before the show was, so there's no particular reason they should have to make reference to it.


 
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Chamomile
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 05:52 PM UTC  
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What it adds to the game is that it reinforces to the players that our characters are on a show. It doesn't necessarily have to be something our characters are aware of at all, although that makes it more difficult to check up on it (maybe have a Fame pop-up like the Stamina pop-up, but instead of mechanical grit it gives a line or two about how your character is thought of by the viewers back home?).

Incidentally, I don't think the contact with the Watcher is occasional enough. I don't think she should be running the Failboat, because you'll end up going there a lot over your career, and the Watcher loses some of her mystique when you usually interact with her as just another NPC to rack up points with.


 
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Count Sessine
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 06:34 PM UTC  
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Chamomile, you're right that a new module with a module pref called 'fame' and a hook into the Hall o' Fame module would be no trick at all to code. (No need for a different building. The HoF is already accessible in every outpost.) That's the sort of thing CMJ could easily toss off in an hour. Writing it to pick up all the many different events that you're wanting to have affect that pref would be sort of fighting the LotGD module system, but it would be do-able. Maybe it'd take an evening. Writing it so it wouldn't fall into that 'uncanny valley' for immersion, though... that'd be a lot harder.

What you're suggesting is a sort of merge-stat combining several of the leaderboards already in the hall of fame. We have a list showing characters' total number of monsters killed, already, and of course charm, toughness, the DK list, two separate measures of wealth (req and cigs), and all the action skills. The 'restorations' list is kind of an inverse, though perhaps from the network's point of view, that might just be an indicator that they're appealing to a different demographic amongst the viewers. (But racial modifiers? From a game-balance perspective, I don't think it would be advisable to add yet another incentive for choosing only the two most popular races and not playing the other races.)

Perhaps you could explain again why you think it's important to combine these various measures of achievement into one number? Not for immersion, surely. The HoF implies, to me, that the Network has many different measures of audience appeal -- and probably doesn't produce for only one channel, either. You wrote:

I guess some contestants are more popular than others with the viewers back home, but we have no idea which ones, so who cares?

I suggest that's not why the contestants don't care. They don't care because being famous amongst people they're never going to meet, on a mainland they're never going to get back to, does not affect their lives in the slightest.

If you want some sort of fame-feedback, a better use of coding time would be a rare village or jungle event that was an encounter with... well, probably not fans. (The fanboy and reporter-mob monsters are improbable creations like all the other monsters. Doesn't mean fans and reporters are allowed on the Island.) But a Network Representative could tell you various things like, oh... how well your action figure is selling, or how big your fan club is now. That wouldn't need a combined 'fame' stat, or a new leaderboard; it could access the data that's already there.

Mind you, if a Network Rep started spouting that sort of mindless idiocy at Sessine, he'd be reaching for his plasma gun. He knows he's probably famous, if only because he's been around so long and got to be a mod and everything -- and he doesn't care.
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Edited to add: Glory was a measure of how much you fought in a single game day while wounded, without healing up to full. There was an exploit somewhere, I never bothered finding out what it was, that let some players rack up jaw-dropping numbers.


 
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Chamomile
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 06:43 PM UTC  
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It doesn't particularly matter whether a particular character cares, I just want it to be visible. The little comments you get about your mainland fame for passing certain thresholds are the important bit of this, everything else is just a support system to make that happen.


 
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Hairy Mary
 Wednesday, October 05 2011 @ 07:49 PM UTC  
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Could but won't go into the races part of the idea. Bad unless we can come up with a plausible excuse why zombies and mutants are the most popular.

The fame score could build in where the fighting takes place, what state the outpost is in. Fighting to save a breached outpost would surely be more popular than fighting in some quiet outpost.

Are we talking fame or popularity? Why would you lose fame when you're failboated? Surely a lot of viewers would like to have a good laugh at people getting hammered? The taunts you get for getting beaten would seem to suggest this. Fame for tipping over the Skronky Pot. Fame for all sorts of things. They don't have to be good things.

I particularly like the fame diminishing over time part. Lose 5% every new day say. Especially if by that you mean every four (real) hours as opposed to every time the player starts a new day. So Players who have long ago left the Island would slide off the board into obscurity, and any leader board would be much more about current players.

I very much agree with what Spandex said about Roleplay being important to how famous you might be (and in fact are to other players), but RP would be virtually impossible to bring in. The only real measures that I can think of are the points for daring-do or whatever attached to mementos, and how many lines have been written. Encouraging memento gifting with points - dubious. Encouraging people to spam any old crap in outposts - downright bad idea.

So I'm generally for this, although I probably wouldn't look at it much at all myself.

By the way, it has crossed my mind to RP a group of 'rationalists' in Squathole who dismiss this idea of a world outside the Island as superstition. Probably never do it, but it has crossed my mind.


 
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Iriana
 Thursday, October 06 2011 @ 05:48 AM UTC  
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I've always had to suspend my disbelief about the TV show aspect of Improbable Island. The basic premise of the show strikes me as one that would get boring for watchers after five years (a pretty fair run, for a TV show), when 'improbability' has gone from thrilling and unpredictable to really very predictable indeed. Constant chaos is not chaos, as says the Panthzer monster.

Basically, I'm not sure that making a TV show on an island where nothing is really under your control makes a great deal of business sense. Cameras are destroyed. Employees are horribly injured. All your tapes explode into a shower of jellybeans and you end up with no material to edit. And there are other questions: given the improbability bubble that saved you from squooshing flat on the jungle floor and whatever mysterious power prevents us all from swimming for the mainland, how does the Network easily get things in and out of the island? How do they deal with liability issues (or are we assuming that post-EMP, humanity no longer cares about safety or civil rights?); how do they keep getting contestants if their MO is knocking people over the head in their living rooms; why is it that they keep dragging in new contestants to do exactly the same things?

It's not that I don't agree with you. The game does not make a strong effort to immerse you in the TV show idea. But for the most part, I think I've accepted that it can't. More to the point, I don't think that another stat, another number will make any progress towards better immersion. It seems flat to me, because the HoF already seems removed from the world of the game. A Hall of Fame and the stats it contains are player constructs, not character constructs.

Also, I'm wondering who this will really apply to; if I had to guess, I'd say the same players and characters who are already at the top of all the other boards. (And who have the biggest hats.) People whose characters already fight all the time, or do these other actions that are apparently valued. Even if this idea supports activity, it supports activity of people who are already active.


 
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Chamomile
 Thursday, October 06 2011 @ 06:12 AM UTC  
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The important part of this idea is that you can get snippets about how well known you are on the mainland when you pass certain static Fame thresholds. Everything else is a support system to make that happen. As for the Island keeping things entertaining for six years, I actually think Improbable Island is uniquely equipped to make that happen. Due to mechanical limitations, we actually end up fighting the same ~150 monsters over and over again, but in-universe I'm pretty sure every opponent in every fight is unique. If a show like that existed in real life, a show where every fight is new and unique, I'd probably watch it fairly often even if it had no unfolding character dramas or metaplot at all. And the Island totally does have those things, so I'd probably watch it every day if I could. Although really, the Island is begging for internet-based observation, where you can follow any contestant you like and go through the archives of everything interesting they've done. Stupid EMP always ruining our communications networks. Now maybe if we had some kind of series of tubes...


 
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tehdave
 Tuesday, October 11 2011 @ 08:19 PM UTC  
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The way I figure it, The Network probably runs several different shows (and hell, why not 24/7 channels) with the footage from II:

1: The highlights of the Jungle show - basically, the best (and bloodiest) fights of the day
2: Days of our LIIves - Sort of a Real World type of show, highlighting the interpersonal drama of the IIslanders
3: Hi-jinks and Bloopers - contestants falling off the cliff, hammering their heads at the outpost walls, falling off of Titans, etc.
4: a Pay-Per-View "reality porn" because there are cameras everywhere


So, how do you determine which contestants are the most "popular"? Biggest mass appeal across all 4 shows? Most action figures/inflatable sexdolls sold of said contestant? You're talking about multiple different markets with vastly different demographics, running the gamut of types of appeal. Some people might like watching the "All Bordello, All The Time" channel, and don't care about the rest of the Island, while some might like 1+2, and be disgusted by the people who watch that channel.

This is not to say that the "popularity" stat is necessarily a bad thing, but I don't think there's really a fair way of saying one contestant is "more popular" than any other, and there's no real way to quantify, say, #2 and #4.

As far as it not seeming like a TV show? That's because you're stuck here and can't watch the editing process. Have you ever checked into the Comms tent? You can take a look at the cameras around other outposts. (presumably because those cameras are static, and don't move around like the Jungle cameras)

The "Hall of Fame", I've always treated as slightly in-character, maybe as something you get the chance to glance at in the comms tent (which is why it's only available in outposts) but your character doesn't see the actual numbers, just a general idea of things. (I mean, you don't know what your exact "Game playing" EXP is in real life, why would your character know what their exact fighting experience is on the Island? You could get the general idea from saying "Ok, this person has fought for X amount of time, and has demonstrated their abilities better than that person" etc. so the leaderboard rankings could be In-character.)

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I really dislike the stereotypes about race (though 'charm' disagrees with me, and supports you)


I don't see where the Charm system plays racial favorites. Just the Watcher Favor. Which honestly makes no sense to me (And is half the reason I absolutely and utterly despise playing Midgets...3-4 favor for a cage match? REALLY!? I'll do Joker or Kitty where I can get 10-18 per, thanks very much. (for the record, that's much more a call to up the low numbers, NOT to drop the high numbers please))

I'm not sure that any particular race would be more or less popular in any of the categories I originally listed up at the top (Ok, maybe some Zombies and Mutants wouldn't do well on anything but "special feature" episodes of the porn channel, but hey, a woman (or man) that can could be popular with the right crowd...)


So now that I've rambled for far too long, let me sum up:
Fame? It doesn't affect the characters at all, because there's nothing they can possibly gain from it (maybe give more famous characters a slightly higher req payout or watcher favor, but that'd be more than unbalanced, as it'd create a bigger gap as time went on) and they can never meet their fans unless the fans come to the Island.
Jungle monsters notwithstanding.


Isn't sanity just a one-trick pony anyway? All you get is one trick: rational thinking. But when you're good and crazy, oooh, oooh, the sky's the limit.
 
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Awesome Fred
 Tuesday, October 11 2011 @ 10:50 PM UTC  
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One argument that seems really strange to me in this thread is that some of you assume our characters think they will never meet their fans. "You're stuck in this place forever, get used to this life," is not a concept compatible with a huge portion of people in our world.

"We were kidnapped and thrown onto a dangerous island by a greedy woman who wants to make money from the TV show about our struggles. And you guys just take it in stride?"





There's a game series called Exile that I believe was started in 1995 as a shareware game (and it was recreated as the game Avernum later on) by Spiderweb Software. It was a WRPG, as in most quests were optional but helped you grow in power and capability until you could finally do the quest. (CMJ, this is the series by indie developer Jeff Vogel, that guy I brought up before.) The game premise was as follows:

An empire had taken control of the entire medieval-fantasy world, and every human on it was a citizen. No, the empire wasn't particularly oppressive on its general populace, but anyone who was deemed unfit to live in society--petty criminals, political opponents, dangerous wizards--were sent to Exile. Exile was a massive system of unexplored natural caverns deep below the surface, dimly lit by the glow of certain mushrooms. When sentenced by a judge, unlucky people were simply thrown into the magical portal into the place, with no portal back out.

However, the Exiles did not simply let themselves decay til death. They formed their own society and raised towns. They encountered hostile species, some sentient, that were natural inhabitants of the caves, and developed their own armies to combat them. Sure, some were content to farm mushrooms and live out their lives in peace, while others became bandits that tried to take advantage of the lessened lawfulness of their new surroundings, but some were search parties looking for a way back to the surface world they were unfairly cast from, and others (some powerful mages) sought to develop the portal magic from scratch to reach the surface world.

In the first Exile game, you play an adventuring party that eventually aids one of the revenge-bent mages into making a temporary portal, one that lasts just long enough for her to assassinate the Emperor. In Exile II, the Empire in retaliation begins to send armies down to exterminate the Exiles--you are tasked with finding and cementing an alliance with a powerful sentient species that shares the caverns with you, so that you might be able to defeat the forces that so outnumber the Exiles. In Exile III, the people finally find the way to the surface world, and you are the exploration party that needs to scout the immediate area and report back so that everyone can finally move back to their world they once knew.




The point of me giving the synopsis of another game is to illustrate that the game--an open-world RPG--keeps its main storyline relevant the entire time while you go kill mobs, do quests, and collect phat lewts to do bigger numbers. The people are forced into a situation that they seem to have no escape from. While they are there, yes, they develop a new society and erect new lives there--but each person is different, and many people are bent on getting back to the world they once knew, or that their parents had come from, a magical world where a giant ball of light illuminates a roof of nothingness above you, where the ground is green with vegetation and the beer isn't made from mushrooms. They aren't content to settle down, but try to get out. This theme never loses steam as you play the game and venture all over, fighting spiders and cat-people and lizardmen and bandits and slimes and giant cockroaches, picking up +3 broadswords, drinking Potions of Confusion and Heroism.

Improbable Island really, really does lose sight of its Reality-Show angle. It often feels like it's only invoked specifically to create certain game explanations, while the main story conflict is limited to the Improbability Drive and its monsters.


 
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