Giving Some Love To Ryan Macklin

As you might remember from my review of Dungeon World, my respect for one of the coauthors of that game shot up when he strolled into a forum discussion to lay the smackdown on his own fans. Specifically, he came in to ask them to kindly quit promoting crazy hype about Dungeon World which didn’t actually reflect the game’s strengths.

Well, Ryan Macklin, one of the contributors to FATE Core, has done much the same thing and I love him for it. I particularly like the direct attack on “FATE can do anything!” because one thing which always irks me when I visit is the tendency of its userbase to latch on to a particular “ darling” and promote its use for every possible campaign concept, no matter how inappropriate. They did it to Savage Worlds, they did it to Wushu, and it serves nobody.

That said: sorry Ryan, but I remember when FATE was FUDGE Adventures in Tabletop Entertainment and I’ve enough affection for FUDGE to still regard FATE as being a variant of FUDGE – a very, very successful variant, mind, but still a variant – so I’m going to keep using the all-caps and regarding it as an acronym. Despite what you and the folk behind FUDGE might think, you don’t get to wave a magic wand and pretend your acronym didn’t originate as an acronym. You know who else likes to redefine or define away acronyms? Byron Hall of FATAL fame. Not classy company to be keeping, dude.

10 thoughts on “Giving Some Love To Ryan Macklin

  1. I’d say he gets +5 points for saying “my game can’t do everything, stop saying it does.”

    He promptly loses:

    – One point for saying “as a professional game designer”
    – Two points for the second half of his post pushing one of my personal designer hot buttons: trying to claim that because he wrote the game, he knows better than mere players how *they* will have fun playing with it.
    – Three points for saying that if you dare to design content based on his core system, but don’t write the name the way he wants you to, that you are a “leech”. Because apparently whether your content is good isn’t what matters, what matters is your typography.

    1. I gave him more points for shooting down “FATE can do everything!” because the darling phenomenon is profoundly annoying,

      I was more generous to the second half of the post because I read it as responding to the general tendency in FATE discussions for people to lazily resort to “just make it an aspect!” whenever someone expresses confusion or criticism about the system; that’s not just lazy advice, but it also throws up genuine problems – some things behave weirdly and create a nasty dissonance between rules and fiction if you try to model them as aspects, and as he points but piling on aspects changes the FATE point economy and so isn’t something you want to do glibly.

      The typography thing is nerdbird bullshit and he needs a spanking for it.

      1. Actually, it’s branding and legal text, not typography. 🙂 And I’m not the only person in the Fate community who thinks this, just the one who felt like saying it that day.

        It’s kinda weird watching people get annoyed by that, though not unexpected. But comments like how I “need a spanking” because my opinion doesn’t match yours? That’s some creepy, perverted stuff. Gross.

        – Ryan

      2. Re: Legal Text – as I understand it you need to include the Section 15 from the FATE 3.0 open licence if you want to throw in some FATE 3.0 open content into your product – a choice which, whilst perhaps inefficient in the FATE Core era, is still open to people and could have some use (especially since if someone wants to make a FATE 3.0 content still – it might happen!), and the FATE 3.0 section 15 still uses the acronym. I see nothing in the FATE Core OGL which requires writing FATE as “Fate”. If your trademark for FATE is a word mark then the capitalisation honestly wouldn’t matter, any more than there’s an appreciable legal difference between Microsoft, microsoft, MICROSOFT and MiCrOsOfT, and if it’s a figurative mark then the capitalisation is likewise less relevant than whether the actual figure is being copied.

        Re: you not being the only person in the community who feels that way – actually, so far as I can tell your position is fairly extreme compared to the public position of other Evil Hat folks, who seem much more chill about the possibility of other people perhaps not following Evil Hat’s branding in lockstep.

        Re: spanking – dude, we’re Imperial Fists over here, our spankings are strictly for religious and disciplinary purposes and have no sexual component to them whatsoever.

        But seriously though, that was just my glib way of saying “getting that fussy over FATE vs. Fate is silly”.

      1. Heaven forefend that someone who takes pride in their status as a “professional game designer” care about what some random has to say on an obscure blog.

        Full disclosure for my readers: I posted a comment on Ryan’s blog, which doesn’t seem to have made it through moderation, which read as follows:

        What about folks who’ve been in the community long enough to remember (and like) the old acronym, or who recall FATE’s roots as a FUDGE variant? Are they excommunicated from the community just because they use the typography they’re used to?

        As far as unfair first impressions go, you impressed me for slapping down some of the more irritating habits of FATE evangelists but irritated me by trying to shove the acronym down the memory hole like it weren’t ever a thing.

        Ryan, is this the “nanny-nagging about how you don’t like my tone” or one of the “comments devoid of meaning or utility” you mention over on your blog? Because I’m not seeing an attack on your tone there so much as an attack on a specific idea (that the old acronym of FATE can be unilaterally cancelled), and I think my meaning was pretty clear.

        But if you want consideration of tone, I think it’s pretty unprofessional to fixate on a criticism whilst brushing off praise; it looks too much like some sort of martyr pose when actually people have been fairly even-handed.

      2. Many fans love to tell creators how they should speak, and chide them for the slightest perceived infraction. I don’t really care about those people, because they’ll self-select to not be my audience, and our lives — mine and theirs — will be better for it.

        – Ryan

      3. So conversely you’ll settle for being a creator who tries to tell their audience how they should speak? Seems eccentric but OK.

      4. Is this going to be one of those weird internet discussions where somebody invests a non-zero amount of time in order to tell you that they have zero interest in what you’re saying?

        Arthur linked your post to say he liked it. I replied to his post saying I didn’t. I’m a little surprised you’d think I thought you’d care. Or for that matter that that I’d care whether you’d care or not.

      5. As I mentioned, although I linked the post saying I liked it I did go over to Ryan’s blog to query the FATE/Fate point, because it seemed to be a weird bit of fussiness at the tail of what otherwise came across to me as a very sensible post. Then, well, this happened.

        Still mildly surprised that he seems to be largely going after me despite me defending most of what he said.

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