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JLrep
2009-05-21, 11:22 AM
What is it that the authors said? Something along the lines of Erfworld being a fantasy world "with game-like qualities."

So: "should" Erfworld be balanced? (I'm assuming that the notion of game balance is generally understood) There has been some speculation, following the recent amazing display of the Arkenpliers' true power, that they are imbalanced or a "gamebreaker." Similar accusations could be made against Parson's zombiecano, teleporter trick, etc. Whether those accusations are true aside, would their truth automatically damage the quality of the comic?

Looking at it this way: is, say, The Lord of the Rings balanced? Was Sauron's power "balanced"? If not, should it have been? Did it not matter because that's not a world with "game-like qualities?" What about other fantasy series, especially those with uber-powerful big bads (which would be most of them, of course)?

JMobius
2009-05-21, 11:58 AM
No.

stupid length requirements!

Fjolnir
2009-05-21, 12:23 PM
Erfworld shouldn't be balanced BECAUSE it has "gamelike qualities" NPCs always willl have some sort of "Unbalanced" thing, be it a hellish toolbox of spells, units that nobody else can even closely emulate, or an entire tech tree that the player has to overcome and will never get access to.

Xefas
2009-05-21, 12:58 PM
The zombiecano, along with most of Parson's other tactics, were as he put it "lateral thinking". He took something balanced and used it in a new way in tandem with other balanced things that created something greater than the sum of its parts.

So, I would say that Erfworld should, at its core, be balanced, with room for smart folk to create imbalances by doing clever things. I mean, how else are we ever going to get an Erfworld board game :smallfrown:

FoolishOwl
2009-05-21, 03:12 PM
The Arkentools were used by the Titans to create Erfworld. If Erfworld were a game, than those tools would be capable of breaking the game, almost by definition.

And again, Parson Gotti didn't just play strategy games in our world. He created strategy games. I think it's pretty obvious that, placed in a world like a strategy game, with access to tools used to create that world, he will change it to a world-game more to his liking.

fangthane
2009-05-21, 03:32 PM
We know the tools could be used, in combination, by Titans, to remake the world or alter it significantly. It remains to be seen whether Parson's perception and the power of those attuned to the tools is sufficient to do likewise, whether alone or in concert. Another interesting thought occurs; could the volcano have been decrypted, if Wanda had had the pliers before the big badaboom? :)

If so... Is there another burnt-out volcano anywhere on Erf? :smallbiggrin:

DevilDan
2009-05-21, 05:33 PM
Hmmm... did they ever say which sort of game Erfworld resembles? To me, it seems that it has elements from multiple games: tabletop, RTS, RPG...

Erfworld may not really be "playable" to begin with. On the other hand, I've already theorized that what we're seeing is the establishing of a new order, of new rules, new mechanics.

HolderofSecrets
2009-05-21, 05:47 PM
To my experience, I have yet to see a game yet that couldn't be broken by someone with the intention of doing so. Balance like many things is hard to determine. In most games I always tend to have more fun when balanced isn't forced by the GM/DM people get to play what they want and those who want power get power. Of all things games should be played for the fun of it.

Now since I stated my stance on balance I will address my stance on perceived imbalances in the story. First off the balance was in the Opposite direction when the story started I saw no one complaining then about imbalances. The battle wouldn't of been fair if parson hadn't shown up. He is like a PC in the game surrounded by NPCs. He is the only thing that made a difference. Strangely enough he only made the battle close and the after effect caused the balance to go the other way. I hope to never see a game of Erf World that would play like the comic as I doubt anyone who played could ever have the same effect as Parson.

Please remember this is only a Story with Game Like Qualities not a game in and of itself. Also if you can get a chance yet me know the last time a Heroic Story book Character ever seemed balanced? Mostly to me Heroes seem the underdogs till the end of the story or Arc when they come out winning over what would seem impossible odds at the start. How has Erfworld not done this?

Godskook
2009-05-21, 08:11 PM
1.LotR was a wizard(poorly defined power) and lesser beings up against a god. Sure, Sauron was on the low end for deities, but he still had the equivalent of divine ranks. And he still lost.

2.What do you mean by 'balance'. Do you mean balance between units or sides? Since all sides have access to casters, casters do not create a balance problem between sides. Arkentools could be a problem, but that depends on how many exist and how a side goes about acquiring one. As it stands, we have no reason to assert that any side has an unequal access to them, so we can't say they imbalance things. If you mean unit imbalance, that's to be expected, since Erfworld seems to be modeled more off of games like C&C than D&D. A single infantry unit in C&C almost always sucks against tanks, and this imbalance between units doesn't create a problem in those games. It does in D&D because players select individual units, and only because they do. D&D core could be considered far more 'balanced' if players were given groups to control instead of individuals.

SteveMB
2009-05-21, 09:26 PM
Each option (balanced or unbalanced) open the door to some stories and closes the door to others. It remains to be seen just which type is being told here.

Sieggy
2009-05-21, 09:35 PM
It's that dynamic IMbalance that makes for good stories, not good games. This is a story, that may develop into a game. If you want a balanced game, watch a game of chess. It can be exciting if you're a chess cognoscenti, but to even a casual player, it's like watching paint dry.

A story about evenly matched sides lacks the thrill of striving against and overcoming great odds. And this is a ripping good story, so it's unbalanced by definition . . .

Oracle_Hunter
2009-05-21, 10:00 PM
Each option (balanced or unbalanced) open the door to some stories and closes the door to others. It remains to be seen just which type is being told here.
My concern for an imbalanced Erfworld is the arms race.

After countless battles, hasn't anyone discovered the rules exploit that lets them pwn all the n00bs? In an imbalanced RTS game you see this a lot - everyone just uses one strategy for each army; if you're lucky, the game is so imbalanced that everyone's brokeness "balances out."

In Erfworld, a serious imbalance can result in a Game Over. If it is inherent in the basic rules, then someone should have Zerg Rushed for total dominance by now. If it requires lateral thinking then maybe nobody figured it out (or did it right when they did) but that just means that once it is revealed, Zerg Rush.

But, if it requires the Tools and a hefty dose of Fate, then the game can easily run forever; only when Fate says the game is over, does it end.

Decius
2009-05-22, 12:14 PM
...\
D&D core could be considered far more 'balanced' if players were given groups to control instead of individuals.

That would be... <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chainmail_(game)">Chainmail</a>.

I see no indication that Erfworld is unbalanced in the slightest. Everyone seems to have access to the same stuff, and if the Arkenhammer is OMGWTFNOOB, then why was Stanley brought to the brink of defeat even though he had it?

The 'pliers seem to have their own weakness: Both times Ansom has been engaged by a named character, he has been disarmed and dismounted. Think about that: Ansom should be one of the hardest people to pull such a move on, and yet he falls victim to it (pun intended) consistently.

raphfrk
2009-05-22, 01:46 PM
In Erfworld, a serious imbalance can result in a Game Over. If it is inherent in the basic rules, then someone should have Zerg Rushed for total dominance by now. If it requires lateral thinking then maybe nobody figured it out (or did it right when they did) but that just means that once it is revealed, Zerg Rush.


It is said that sides that get to big will split in 2. Thus, you don't end up with 1 side dominating all the others. (It is unclear if this can happen with non-royal sides, and those which have no Heir to rebel).

I think that this would be something that Parson could help with. For example, imagine if the side splitting effect was due to natural thinkamancy. This could be implemented so that the more units you have, the weaker the natural thinkamancy effect on each unit. When the strength of natural thinkamancy falls below a threshold in a group of cities, then these cities rebel and form a new side.

Parson, OTOH, may be capable of generating loyalty without the need for natural thinkamancy. Thus, GK may be able to grow beyond the natural limit for a side, and as long as those cities remain loyal to Parson (who remains loyal to Stanley), they won't rebel.

Also, Parson has knowledge of things like democracy. This could allow him to manage a side without the need for natural thinkamancy at all. Another option would be the concept of a federation. He might be able to convince multiple sides to pool their sovereignty, and agree to take actions based on majority vote of the sides. (presumably restricted to defined areas like common defence and trade).

Zael Zuran
2009-05-22, 02:18 PM
The Arkentools were used by the Titans to create Erfworld. If Erfworld were a game, than those tools would be capable of breaking the game, almost by definition.

And again, Parson Gotti didn't just play strategy games in our world. He created strategy games. I think it's pretty obvious that, placed in a world like a strategy game, with access to tools used to create that world, he will change it to a world-game more to his liking.

Well said.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-05-22, 02:20 PM
Also, Parson has knowledge of things like democracy. This could allow him to manage a side without the need for natural thinkamancy at all. Another option would be the concept of a federation. He might be able to convince multiple sides to pool their sovereignty, and agree to take actions based on majority vote of the sides. (presumably restricted to defined areas like common defence and trade).
It's not really a question of size; it's a question of rules.

This above is an example of lateral thinking that can break the game while using its normal rule system. What I am talking about is an exploit in the normal rules that results in a Game Breaker (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GameBreaker) strategy - one combination of units, or bonuses, or tactics that is so powerful it overshadows all others. The Zerg Rush (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rush_(computer_and_video_games)) was such a tactic in Starcraft; Zergs could be built so quickly that they could attack an opponent before they could even build basic defensive units. In more poorly designed games, Rushing became the only tactic to use in multiplayer - resulting in Rushes and Counter-Rushes, neglecting pretty much every other option in gameplay.

Obviously you can't have an exact Zerg Rush in Erfworld, but if there is a Game Breaker out there then, over time, everyone will have to be using it or be dead; you wouldn't see complicated army formats like the RCC - you'd just see a billion marbits :smalltongue:

"Lateral thinking" basically means finding an exploit that nobody else has thought of yet - least of all the "designers." Normally this can be an acceptable dodge, but in a persistent and violent world like Erfworld, any "easy" game breaker should have been discovered by now. The Zombcano is an exception because Thinkamancer Links are inherently dangerous and this particular effect used at least one Master-Class caster - very valuable units.

It was literally a plan that was just Crazy Enough to Work. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrazyEnoughToWork) :smallcool:

snoopy13a
2009-05-22, 03:32 PM
Hmmm... did they ever say which sort of game Erfworld resembles? To me, it seems that it has elements from multiple games: tabletop, RTS, RPG...



To me it resembles the Heroes of Might and Magic games most of all.

Mr.Silver
2009-05-22, 05:16 PM
To me it resembles the Heroes of Might and Magic games most of all.

I'd say it has sightly more in common with the Warlords series, but there does seem to be a definate HoMM influence there.

Kreistor
2009-05-22, 09:37 PM
A system can be unbalanced if it has an effect that I call counter-balancing.

Basically, as the Side grows, it becomes less and less able to defend itself against smaller opponents. Essentially, it suffers from the Law of Diminishing returns, and winds up growing pas tthe point where another addition adds no value to additional units decreasing Side effectiveness. It basically grows itself to death.

Given that Erfworld has never been "won", that no empire has ever conquered the world, something needs to be ensuring that it can't happen. Even if one side may have a unit that dominates others, unbalancing it allowing the side to quickly conquer and grow, it hits a point where further expansion will cause its own downfall.

If this is so, then Parson will have a big problem later. He'll need to find a way to break the impasse that prevents final victory..

raphfrk
2009-05-23, 07:50 AM
It basically grows itself to death.


Right, like I said, they have an effect where large sides fragment into 2 sides (can't find the reference)

In civilisation, they have a rule where the more cities you have, the less efficient they are. This is in addition to the fact that lost trade due to corruption increases the further away from your capital a city is located.

Marbit-Chow
2009-05-23, 09:47 AM
A system can be unbalanced if it has an effect that I call counter-balancing.

Basically, as the Side grows, it becomes less and less able to defend itself against smaller opponents. Essentially, it suffers from the Law of Diminishing returns, and winds up growing pas tthe point where another addition adds no value to additional units decreasing Side effectiveness. It basically grows itself to death.

Given that Erfworld has never been "won", that no empire has ever conquered the world, something needs to be ensuring that it can't happen. Even if one side may have a unit that dominates others, unbalancing it allowing the side to quickly conquer and grow, it hits a point where further expansion will cause its own downfall.

If this is so, then Parson will have a big problem later. He'll need to find a way to break the impasse that prevents final victory..

That limiting factor is probably upkeep. Smuckers have to be spent for every unit, every turn. Gems can be mined, but they run out. We've seen hints that farms may generate smuckers (I would assume continuously), but you presumably need lots of farmland to maintain a large army.

A side would need some sort of guaranteed revenue generation. The better it is, the better it has to be defended, otherwise it falls to another side. Up until now, the only zero-upkeep units decayed, so you couldn't use them for a permanent standing army. In some cases, they're only good for a few turns.

Decrypting changes all that. There would be no functional limit to the size of the army, other than the number of units that can be croaked to create it. Other than a capital city (which is required), there's no need for holding any other cities at all, so Parson is free to remain almost completely on the offensive.

In order to create an interesting narrative, the authors may choose to reveal additional 'game mechanics' that would further prevent large armies from being effective. However, from what they've shown so far, Parson appears to have stumbled into a 'perfect storm' of conditions that will allow him to change the face of the game completely.

Further musings:
We know that if the leader of a side is eliminated, the rest of the side freezes in place until the attacker engages. Parson's tactics of hitting the leadership first, combined with his siege engine hit-and-run tactics, means that he can effectively lock down entire sides with few losses. Note that we know, from Parson's Klog #12, that leaderless cities become neutral, freezing in time, and their field units disband.

Using Hit-and-run assaults on capitals to wipe out their leadership, using Dwagons / Archons from above (and to transport the elite strike forces), and Golems / Sizemore from below, allows Parson to perform surgical strikes to knock out entire sides at a time. He uses engage-and-withdraw attacks to wipe out just the leadership. When the leader is gone, the side turns neutral. Heck, the side's Thinkamancers can't even broadcast warnings when they're frozen in time.

Using hit-and-run techniques on the remaining neutral forces, he can eliminate entire sides with (almost?) no losses, since he can withdraw when wounded and strike again the next day at full strength, and the neutral units cannot counter-attack at all. A simple war of attrition will eliminate every unit eventually, at no risk.

Even better, whatever units are croaked during the final assault, or perhaps the final 2 assaults become decrypted units in his own army. (He attacks, neutral turn is skipped, he attacks again. Bodies from the 1st attack don't vanish until the start of the next turn, or nightfall of the next day if the side no longer exists.)

Heck, it's even possible that Parson's strike force can just burst in, croak and decrypt the overlord of the side, and the entire side turns just like that. From most unit's point of view, the leader is still the leader, just wearing different clothes. Only the casters / warlords can even see the unit stats, so they're the only ones who would know anything's wrong, and if you croak / decrypt them all as well, there's no one to spill the beans. You might even be able to send false information using the newly-decrypted Thinkamancers to allies of the defeated side, and set up ambushes / betrayals for the next side in Parson's crosshairs. Entire sides could be swallowed up into Parson's war machine before anyone really understood what was wrong.

Personally, I'd say that Parson has already broken the game. But the story is more than the mechanics of the game. It's about what happens to the characters - how they grow and change over time. Does Parson's conscience prevent him from ruling the world? Does he find a less violent method of conquest? Does he get captured and become forced to beat the unstoppable army he created? What happens to Jillian? Vinnie? Wanda? Sizemore? Maggie? Does Parson ever get home? Does he even want to?

Ok, enough rambling on my part.

Kreistor
2009-05-23, 11:56 AM
Right, like I said, they have an effect where large sides fragment into 2 sides (can't find the reference)

In civilisation, they have a rule where the more cities you have, the less efficient they are. This is in addition to the fact that lost trade due to corruption increases the further away from your capital a city is located.

That's not what I'm talking about. Royal sides can split into two empires, but that doesn't stop non-Royal sides.

The effect I'm talking about is usually very subtle. The Law of Diminshing returns is an economic concept. IT tells us that as a company adds employees and grows, each new employee adds less than the previous employee, due partially to the organization necessary to manage the large staff. More employees means a higher proportion of managers, more time spent in meetings instead of generating revenue. Eventually, adding another employee doesn't add any more production, and then anyone added after that actually interferes with the company's production, reducing productivity.

Let's say you're digging a cesspit. One person can do it alone, but it will take a long time. Add another person, and you almost cutthe time in half, but every once in a while they'll bump into each other and so you don't quite get double production. A third means more bumping. Twnety? Well, five people can't work in the same place at the same time, so they need someone to ensure they organize such that they're not bumping into each other, so now you're adding a sixth person for management that doesn't actually work: he tries to arrange the productivity of the other five so that they are maximized, but his own productivity is zero. More people, more managers. Eventually, there are too many poeple to dig in the cesspit at once, so some are standing around not adding any production, asting the time of managers trying to find something for them to do. That's when more employees slows the process down, creating negative productivity.

A well designed game does not have this effect. Larger armies mean a stronger side, and better chance of victory. But Erfworld is different. It has never had a winner. What can explain that, except something in the rules is preventing ultimate victory?


That limiting factor is probably upkeep. Smuckers have to be spent for every unit, every turn. Gems can be mined, but they run out. We've seen hints that farms may generate smuckers (I would assume continuously), but you presumably need lots of farmland to maintain a large army.

Then you'd need an exponential upkeep curve, and right now it looks linear. Money is generated from farmland, so doubling farmland doubles income, and doubles troop upkeep.

If you double land mass, you can double troops. Since the line you need to defend is linear, but landmass is area. If you quadruple landmass (A=pi*r*r, C=2pi*r, r->2r, C2=4pi*r=2C, A2=pi*2r*2r=4*pi*r*r=4A), the perimeter only doubles, so you can have 4x as many troops, but need only 2x as many to defend the territory's borders.

One thing that can be a problem is the "Ruler sets production for all cities" rule. That places a big onus on one man, as the Side increases. Organizing something like that should require a larger advisory staff, but someone like Stanley is going to try to do it all himself, because of pride.As the Side increases, and different battles cost a variety of losses, it becomes harder for one man to organize the replacements.

there may also be a problem if a Side may only engage in one battle against one opponent at a time with fielded units. In this case, garrisons need to become increasingly self-sufficient, as an attakc on one side can allow an enemy on the other opportunity to attack unhindered. I do not think this is an Erfwrld rule, but it's conceivably one.

I don't know exactly what may be the restricting factor to Side growth, and I can't for certain sya that it does exist, but I can say it is plausible given the failure of any side to win.

ishnar
2009-05-23, 12:38 PM
Then you'd need an exponential upkeep curve, and right now it looks linear. Money is generated from farmland, so doubling farmland doubles income, and doubles troop upkeep.


Not necessarily. Money could be generated from farming by converting food credits for smuckers via moneymancy or trade. If moneymancy is the means then it will stay linear even with a crappy ratio. But what if it can only be converted by trade. If you are killing your trading partners then you will eventually be able to trade fewer and fewer of your food resources for smuckers.

Then you could also have something like the black market in Sins of a Solar Empire, that inreases the trade ratio every time you make a trade, and it takes a while of not trading for the ratio to fall back to 3:1.

archon_huskie
2009-05-23, 12:46 PM
Most of the games that I have played in start off balanced, but as other players played for a while, they found little tricks that gave them unbalanced powers.

So it is with Erfworld.

I see this as a Roleplaying game where all the characters except Parson are NPCs. Parson, being the lone PC, is discovering those little tricks to make him unbalanced.

raphfrk
2009-05-23, 02:13 PM
That's not what I'm talking about. Royal sides can split into two empires, but that doesn't stop non-Royal sides.


Well, I guess this could be a counterbalance to the fact that royals level faster, but I think it likely applies to all sides. Ofc, if the standard social convention is that royal sides tend to attack any non-royal side before it hits 10 cities, then maybe the problem has never come up.



The effect I'm talking about is usually very subtle. The Law of Diminshing returns is an economic concept. IT tells us that as a company adds employees and grows, each new employee adds less than the previous employee, due partially to the organization necessary to manage the large staff.


Right. I guess the question is if that occurs in game, and if so, how.

One way would be to simulate the management directly.

For example, a thinkamancer might only be able to broadcast to 50 units at once. If you have an army with more than 50, then you need more than 1 thinkamancer, or the thinkamancer must repeat the broadcast. In the extreme, you might need 1 thinkamancer for every 50 units.

A solution would be to have each stack lead by a warlord and then only communicate with the warlords. This happens in MMORPGs, where for raids, only the group leaders are in the main chat-group. (some games allow you to have everyone in the raid chat group, but restrict speaking rights to group leaders).

Another option is to add the penalty directly. City productivity might be scaled by

11/(10+cities)

Thus your total output is

1: 1.0
2: 1.8
..
5: 3.7
...
10: 5.5
...
20: 7.3
...
40: 8.8
...
100: 10.0
...
200: 10.5

Thus, once you hit around 10 cities, each additional city adds much less. A side with 40 cities is only slightly more powerful than a side with 20 cities. No matter how many cities a side has, it is never more powerful than 11 sides with only 1 city each.

Ofc, under the above rule, there is never a point where adding a new city actually weakens your side, but that could be added by adding a quadratic term.



Eventually, adding another employee doesn't add any more production, and then anyone added after that actually interferes with the company's production, reducing productivity.


Right, there are 2 effects. A large company gains economies of scale which gives an advantage to larger firms. However, larger firms also suffer from dis-economies of scale. The ideal company size is where there two effects balance out.



Well, five people can't work in the same place at the same time, so they need someone to ensure they organize such that they're not bumping into each other, so now you're adding a sixth person for management that doesn't actually work: he tries to arrange the productivity of the other five so that they are maximized, but his own productivity is zero.


Also, if there are 5 people doing the work and 1 of them is lazy, a manager who looks at the work done per day isn't likely to notice the lack of productivity. Thus, each worker has an incentive to be lazy. If there is just 1 worker, the manager can monitor his work just by looking at output.



A well designed game does not have this effect. Larger armies mean a stronger side, and better chance of victory. But Erfworld is different. It has never had a winner. What can explain that, except something in the rules is preventing ultimate victory?


It depends on what you mean by well designed. If the game excludes the effect, it isn't well designed.

Incidentally, it does seem that units don't have a 'laziness' stat (well except the Tardy elves). They will attack until they are all dead.



Then you'd need an exponential upkeep curve, and right now it looks linear. Money is generated from farmland, so doubling farmland doubles income, and doubles troop upkeep.


It doesn't need to be exponential. Even quadratic would be sufficient. For example, doubling your army's size might increases the support required by 4.



One thing that can be a problem is the "Ruler sets production for all cities" rule. That places a big onus on one man, as the Side increases. Organizing something like that should require a larger advisory staff, but someone like Stanley is going to try to do it all himself, because of pride.As the Side increases, and different battles cost a variety of losses, it becomes harder for one man to organize the replacements.


Arguably civilisation also had this effect :). You could set cities to automate construction or do it manually.



there may also be a problem if a Side may only engage in one battle against one opponent at a time with fielded units.


I think they would take it in turns. If an enemy enters your city, you are allowed to attack their units. However, your units only heal once per day (at the start of your turn).



I don't know exactly what may be the restricting factor to Side growth, and I can't for certain sya that it does exist, but I can say it is plausible given the failure of any side to win.

I think a rule like "A side has a 1% chance of splitting in 2 per turn if it has more than 10 cities" would be sufficient.

tribble
2009-05-23, 06:39 PM
1.LotR was a wizard(poorly defined power) and lesser beings up against a god. Sure, Sauron was on the low end for deities, but he still had the equivalent of divine ranks. And he still lost.



no, it was a few kingdoms of mortals and a Wizard (heavily implied to be an angel) against an angel. Sauron and the Balrogs were Maia, lesser angels. the Valar, which included Melkor, Saurons boss, were like arch-angels. Illuvatar is God.

Revenant
2009-05-23, 10:45 PM
no, it was a few kingdoms of mortals and a Wizard (heavily implied to be an angel) against an angel. Sauron and the Balrogs were Maia, lesser angels. the Valar, which included Melkor, Saurons boss, were like arch-angels. Illuvatar is God.
Aye, the Istari (Wizards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizard_(Middle-earth))) were Maia also, though they were stripped of much of their powers and clothed in mortal forms when they were sent to Middle-Earth.

Aquillion
2009-05-23, 11:34 PM
no, it was a few kingdoms of mortals and a Wizard (heavily implied to be an angel) against an angel. Sauron and the Balrogs were Maia, lesser angels. the Valar, which included Melkor, Saurons boss, were like arch-angels. Illuvatar is God.It's a mistake to read too much into those comparisons.

Tolkien was not trying to write an allegory. He was trying to create a sort of "mythology" for English literature, because he felt that it lacked one (the way that, say, German literature had its mythology.) The Valar were like classical gods or demigods in some ways and like arch-angels in others, but it's misleading to call them either -- they do not behave, generally, like archangels from any earthly religion (they made independent decisions and so forth, for instance, even the ones who weren't Melkor); likewise, Gandalf isn't really what we'd call an angel.

They're separate orders of being. Tolkien invented new words for them (or used imprecise, fuzzy words like 'wizard') precisely because he wanted to avoid the baggage that came with older words.

FFF12321
2009-05-25, 01:57 AM
I think y'all are reading a bit too much into the whole side splitting aspect of Erfworld. I find it rather more likely that there isn't some convoluted formula or rule for maximum number of cities. And at least with why there hasn't been a winner yet...that's prolly because no one has been good enough at war to beat all other nations yet. Remember we have no idea how big Erf really is. For all we know, there are 500 million sides and the world is a light year in diameter. For all we know, the limiting factor in how big a kingdom becomes is how long its winning warlord lasts. So far, our experience with Erf has been One Battle, for One City, with only a few sides represented. There is no way for us to really speculate on how or why no one has "won" Erf yet. But I will go with the rather simple answer that no one has been good enough to do so yet and Parson represents the best shot in a long long time (if ever)

Dallas-Dakota
2009-05-25, 02:40 AM
Looking at it this way: is, say, The Lord of the Rings balanced? Was Sauron's power "balanced"?
Yes. It was balanced.

The story runs along, with it being unbalanced at first. But then the five wizards have been sent to Arda, so it is balanced again.

MoredanKantose
2009-05-25, 03:24 AM
Hello, JLrep.

Interesting questions.


So: "should" Erfworld be balanced?

Coulnd't care less, as long as it is internally consistent.

And yes, it still was an interesting question for me, I had to think about it for a long time before I answered. But I came to the conclusion that... I do not care.


would their truth automatically damage the quality of the comic?

Ähem... IMHO, for every characteristic X, which is not "it has a bad quality", it is not true that X "automatically damages the quality" of any piece of art.

Uglyness? See Giger.
Improvisation? See Jazz.
Lack of effort? See some conceptual art.
Simplicity? See "The Black Square" of Malevich.

Never "automatically", never "always", never "besides any other consideration".


is, say, The Lord of the Rings balanced?

No, it is not. Played over and over again, Sauron would win most of the times. There are many moments in the book where the protagonists are just lucky.


If not, should it have been?

I think it depends on the purpose of the books. To have more quality? no.


Did it not matter because that's not a world with "game-like qualities?"

Disagree, it is. For example, it is fun. This is a game-like quality :) .


What about other fantasy series, especially those with uber-powerful big bads (which would be most of them, of course)?

Well, here I must say that I dislike many of them, but at the same time, that I haven't read many of the ones I dislike, because I disliked the mere setting so much that I did not want to read them.

Keyword: "The protagonist saves the world/kingdom from destruction/evil". Any book which gives me the impression of ending like that, I do not read it. I haven't found fantasy books in the last decades which did not give me that impression, even the ones where the protagonist is supposedly weak or evil at the beginning.

If somebody has any idea... I would be glad to read fantasy again...

JLrep
2009-05-26, 12:04 PM
Thanks for the reply, MoredanKantose.

My point with the initial post was engendered by the constant callings-out of Erfworld when apparent "gamebreakers" were introduced, such as the zombicano and Decrypt. I found it an interesting question; for instance, since Erfworld was created by the uber-Elvises (Elvii?), did they create it to be a game that was like a world or a world that was like a game? Etc.

I'll agree with you about fantasy. I love to read but I don't usually read fantasy because it all feels the same, an entire genre of LotR wannabes. And probably a good half or more of it takes the form of "young boy w/ destiny defeats Big Bad & saves day." Though if you're interested, I have found some interesting stuff in Glen Cook's Black Company series. They're much darker and earthy than most fantasy, and instead of a young boy or a gallant knight or something, they follow an ordinary (middle-aged) soldier in a mercenary group, which as often works for the "evil" side as the good one.

Xiander
2009-05-26, 05:39 PM
If somebody has any idea... I would be glad to read fantasy again...

I would recoment the "first law" trilogy by Joe Abercrombie. I have only read two of the books yet, but it feels safe to say that they will not end with the Hero resquing anything. There seems to be no heroes in the book, only protagonists.

As an answer to the qustion posed by the OP: Balance has little to no bearing upon how interesting a story is. Adversity however has. Or to put it differently: I care little about whether one weapon has the power to level every side on erfworld whithin a turn, as long as it is used to create an interesting problem to be solved or tried solved by the protagonists.

Estanov
2009-05-28, 08:25 AM
Yes, but that does not mean that it will.

In many games, the purpose is to be balanced (Like 'Magic the Gathering' or DND.) However, smart players will almost always find exploits or combo's that completely surpass the intended abilities of the game.

Example: Ever fought against a 3.5 fighter with a brilliant energy greatsword and the power attack feat? Autsj...