Author Topic: Burden of Command Announced  (Read 19852 times)

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Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #30 on: July 01, 2017, 01:50:47 PM »
BoC is designed to have different command decisions. Many of them have no right answer, just one answer that, under the right circumstances, is a better choice than others.

The unique blend of storyline, choices outside the scenario, the scenario and the resulting changes to your leadership values will make this game a unique experience. Since I'll be expected to create scenarios that will support that formula I don't expect to make puzzles. My scenarios for previous games have all been about the battle itself. On only rare occasions have they been where it couldn't have been beaten in more than one way.

That's what I expect to find for these scenarios when this game is complete.

Good Hunting.

MR
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Offline lhughes42

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #31 on: July 01, 2017, 04:15:23 PM »
Regarding timers on decisions. Man we keep debating this. Like Telltale Game does. But it could piss people off in a turn based game. As an option would probably be the way to go. More opinions welcomed.
  Luke

Offline Barthheart

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #32 on: July 01, 2017, 05:01:47 PM »
Regarding timers on decisions. Man we keep debating this. Like Telltale Game does. But it could piss people off in a turn based game. As an option would probably be the way to go. More opinions welcomed.
  Luke

Make it an option. Could be fun to play that way after a couple times through.
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Offline jomni

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #33 on: July 01, 2017, 07:03:46 PM »
For this game to absolutely blow my socks off, I only have one last hope:  Can we please dispense with the "Takes Objectives X, Y, and Z by Turn 9 to win a Decisive Victory, by Turn 11 to win a Strategic Victory, and by Turn 14 to win a Tactical Victory"?  That mechanic works well to introduce tension and a challenge, but after having played it in umpteen different games, having to face it in every scenario I play feels kinda tired to me.

You have to tell that to my project manager in real-life work.  My KPI relies on that sort of metric.

Offline Apocalypse 31

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #34 on: July 01, 2017, 08:57:47 PM »
Regarding timers on decisions. Man we keep debating this. Like Telltale Game does. But it could piss people off in a turn based game. As an option would probably be the way to go. More opinions welcomed.
  Luke

Make it an option. Could be fun to play that way after a couple times through.

If that's the case, then make objectives based on turn limits optional, also. If the point of the game is to make decisions in combat then there needs to be an element of stress - in combat (based on my deployments), things happen in an instant and sometimes you don't have the time  to make the best decision.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #35 on: July 01, 2017, 11:29:12 PM »
For this game to absolutely blow my socks off, I only have one last hope:  Can we please dispense with the "Takes Objectives X, Y, and Z by Turn 9 to win a Decisive Victory, by Turn 11 to win a Strategic Victory, and by Turn 14 to win a Tactical Victory"?  That mechanic works well to introduce tension and a challenge, but after having played it in umpteen different games, having to face it in every scenario I play feels kinda tired to me.

You have to tell that to my project manager in real-life work.  My KPI relies on that sort of metric.

I get that timetables matter.  But having them be the only criterion for success is foolish.  I hope your PM at work is also measuring Scope and Cost, causing Timing is only one leg of the Project Management stool...   C:-)

Offline ComradeP

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #36 on: July 02, 2017, 06:56:17 AM »
It looks like a very interesting concept indeed, and I applaud you for trying it as hasn't been done in a quick to play manner before as far as I know (without boardgame bookkeeping).

I do have some questions and comments.

The most important one, as in any game where you want results to matter: what is the incentive to keep going when facing likely defeat? How do you stop players from reloading or replaying a scenario to get a good or the "best" result, particularly in a game where results are significantly influenced by statistical chance judging by the wounded Captain situation?

To phrase it differently: if the goal is to get as many of your boys in and out of the war alive, how do you keep the player from doing exactly that in the best way possible by replaying scenarios for as close to an optimal result as possible?

One of the main difficulties in designing interesting scenarios is to make them both interesting to play and not frustrating enough to require people to play them again if things go wrong.

As the scenario designer for the Unity of Command DLC's, I understand the puzzle-criticism as mentioned by FarAway Sooner. With limited pieces in play and yet a substantial number of variable moves tied to a time limit, a situation may appear where completing a scenario feels like a puzzle. Even though I designed and balanced every scenario in the same way (best victory condition were usually timed on when I could achieve them, plus one or two turns depending on how long the scenario is/how much randomness is involved). There is a certain number of turns where victory can be achieved, and a certain number of turns where it can't be achieved.

There are a multitude of bad or mediocre combat results leading to the eventual result of the scenario, but in most cases only a few good ones (though not necessarily a fixed "best" one as that depends on the situation). You don't want to force the player to accept bad results, but you do want to give some reward for picking the less ideal path. Otherwise he'd just keep reloading. Whether you go home a hero alive and well or in a box is, when push comes to shove, determined by die rolls or chance.

Another problem is the balance between punishing less experienced players/defeat and rewarding experienced players who truly understand the system/victory. In a game featuring statistical chance for single events, percentage modifiers become important (which might encourage min-maxing). Let's say the Captain in the example situation dies, and he would normally give some sort of advantage to unit performance.

You lose that (small?) advantage. Though each individual negative result might result in only a small penalty, those penalties combined can quickly make your force much less competent. Perhaps more so than some people would realize unless they keep track of their unit/formation performance statistics. On the other hand, a multitude of small bonuses will slowly but significantly increase unit/formation performance. That leads to the dilemma of having to walk on the thin line between not punishing defeat too much (otherwise players would reload the scenario) and not rewarding players too much whilst still encouraging players to perform well. This is something we're struggling with for UoC 2 as well at this point in the design process, so the dilemma is very familiar.

Mad Russian, for FC:RS you mentioned that NATO relied on everything being at the right place at the right time, leading to a situation where if that did not take place they would be likely to lose to Warsaw Pact numbers. That was very true, and the same applies to a certain extent to the Germans in World War II. The US armed forces ended up taking more of a "good enough is good enough" approach, where they might not have the technological edge or an edge in training and experience over particularly German mobile formations until late 1944-1945, but they still ended up being good enough for the task at hand. Even purely from that perspective alone, it will be interesting to see how such an infantry regiment "choose your own adventure" game will play out. The influence of losses on experience in particular will be educational to follow due to how infantry formations tended to take the bulk of the losses.

Another question is the way the scenarios are linked into a campaign. If a certain battle is covered in a certain scenario, it is assumed we're participating in the decisive moment that could lead to Allied victory in that battle. We're not launching spoiling attacks or softening up enemy frontline positions through infiltrations or taking limited objectives, of one battle equals one scenario. That would also mean that the results come down to victory or defeat. Though this makes sense from the historical perspective (you want to cover the major engagements fought by the regiment), it might make the campaigns in North Africa, Italy and pre-Cobra Normandy seem more dynamic because we don't get to see or influence the lengthy period in between major offensives, if I understand the intention correctly.

We potentially draw replacements, something might happen through automated training or whatever to cover the lull in the fighting/static period and then we're back in action for the next big battle. Again, understandable from a game perspective, but I'm curious to see how that works out for preserving the feel of truly leading your formation throughout the war, instead of the "highlights".

From that perspective, from the immersion I think I would personally prefer less very detailed decisions like sending a medic to a platoon or company leader, and more overall decisions on deciding my own moves and responding to enemy movements. It might feel somewhat like a bit of a disconnect from history if, as a regimental commander potentially one or more kilometres from the leading companies, I have to make decisions that in real-life would not be made by me because I either wouldn't know about them until it's too late (the Captain might be dead before the radio works or a runner gets to regimental HQ) or would not have the power to influence them. In that case, there's the balance between the game feeling like a leadership simulator and "babysitting" individual units. The unit density seems to be limited, so it might be a purely theoretical issue.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to it and I'd be happy to help with playtesting if that would be appreciated.
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Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #37 on: July 02, 2017, 09:30:15 AM »
It looks like a very interesting concept indeed, and I applaud you for trying it as hasn't been done in a quick to play manner before as far as I know (without boardgame bookkeeping).

It's one of the reasons I joined the team. This game is a chance to push the envelope on our hobby. I was told once, by a poster in the Flashpoint Campaign threads, that I seem to have a knack for getting on the best teams/projects. I feel like this game continues that aspect of my run of luck.


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I do have some questions and comments.

The most important one, as in any game where you want results to matter: what is the incentive to keep going when facing likely defeat? How do you stop players from reloading or replaying a scenario to get a good or the "best" result, particularly in a game where results are significantly influenced by statistical chance judging by the wounded Captain situation?

To phrase it differently: if the goal is to get as many of your boys in and out of the war alive, how do you keep the player from doing exactly that in the best way possible by replaying scenarios for as close to an optimal result as possible?

I would think the incentive for a gamer, that would play this type of game, is the experience it brings. This isn't a 'high score' kind of a game. It's much more a simulation with a game element added.

For me personally, it's all about how well I can do without hitting the reset button. It's about me doing my best because the one I'm comparing myself to is me.


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One of the main difficulties in designing interesting scenarios is to make them both interesting to play and not frustrating enough to require people to play them again if things go wrong.

Agreed.

With a game like Flashpoint Campaigns: Red Storm it was about making the scenarios tough enough to beat that you tried it multiple times. In BoC I have an entirely different criteria for the gamer. Here I want the smoke in your eyes. It can't be so easy that you walk through the campaign without ever feeling any of the stress that goes with the actual position, but, it can't be so hard the gamer is continually getting themselves killed and you have no chance of completing the campaign successfully.


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As the scenario designer for the Unity of Command DLC's, I understand the puzzle-criticism as mentioned by FarAway Sooner. With limited pieces in play and yet a substantial number of variable moves tied to a time limit, a situation may appear where completing a scenario feels like a puzzle. Even though I designed and balanced every scenario in the same way (best victory condition were usually timed on when I could achieve them, plus one or two turns depending on how long the scenario is/how much randomness is involved). There is a certain number of turns where victory can be achieved, and a certain number of turns where it can't be achieved.

Victory in BoC is tied to more of a reality situation than scenario based games. The battle in the scenario is only a part of the overall picture. In most games you take the objectives you win. The faster you take them the better your score. It rarely matters if you kill every pixel truppen you own along the way. BoC is very much against your taking losses to obtain an objective. You ask, "how that can be"? The reason is because of the simulation part of the game. You are expected to get your men home too. This creates the situation all leaders face. What is the risk reward for this mission? Do I take the objective and take the loss in men? Do I pull back and not take the objectives because the cost is too high? If I don't take the objective now will the cost be even higher the next time we have to try it?

This is exactly what BoC is trying to make the gamer experience. We want you to be the boots of a small unit commander. And SOMETIMES those boots get really tight on you!!


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There are a multitude of bad or mediocre combat results leading to the eventual result of the scenario, but in most cases only a few good ones (though not necessarily a fixed "best" one as that depends on the situation). You don't want to force the player to accept bad results, but you do want to give some reward for picking the less ideal path. Otherwise he'd just keep reloading. Whether you go home a hero alive and well or in a box is, when push comes to shove, determined by die rolls or chance.

Because BoC isn't only scenario driven, but the choices the leader takes this should be part and parcel to the experience. There are often no "Best" results. Each situation is different each time you come upon it and you could get vastly different results for the same actions.

Let's take a real life situation and see how it could be applied. In WW2 General Rose was killed by SS troops near Paderborn Germany. For weeks after that the 3rd Armored Division didn't take prisoners. Before that event US forces prided themselves on the numbers of Germans they took as POW's. But for that time period they weren't interested. The exact same situation affected by the psychological events of the battlefield and the mindset of the soldiers involved.

BoC has that same situational awareness added into it at times. Same exact action will get you kudos from your men one time and disdain another. The same exact action will get you approval from higher up the Chain of Command one time and a rebuke the next time. BoC is not set up solely on the actions of the leader or the results of the battle or the welfare of your men but all three.


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Another problem is the balance between punishing less experienced players/defeat and rewarding experienced players who truly understand the system/victory. In a game featuring statistical chance for single events, percentage modifiers become important (which might encourage min-maxing). Let's say the Captain in the example situation dies, and he would normally give some sort of advantage to unit performance.

There is no doubt that the premier experience of playing BoC will come the first time you play it. That's the time you have no idea what is coming next. Yes, the Captain may die. If he does he will be replaced with another officer with his own skill set. That new officer may be you, or it may not be. In either case, if he's replaced the new commander will be challenged with the completion of the mission. The war will go on. With our without you. With or without a good leader at the helm.


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You lose that (small?) advantage. Though each individual negative result might result in only a small penalty, those penalties combined can quickly make your force much less competent. Perhaps more so than some people would realize unless they keep track of their unit/formation performance statistics. On the other hand, a multitude of small bonuses will slowly but significantly increase unit/formation performance. That leads to the dilemma of having to walk on the thin line between not punishing defeat too much (otherwise players would reload the scenario) and not rewarding players too much whilst still encouraging players to perform well. This is something we're struggling with for UoC 2 as well at this point in the design process, so the dilemma is very familiar.

That's one of the key balancing acts this game presents to the developers. In my experience, and I'm not a combat veteran, this is one of the places where BoC will shine. The team has a group of veterans that are relied upon heavily for their experiences in command situations. In all aspects of small unit leadership. If we can keep the game true to their experiences then I think we will have gamers come away with their own experiences like nothing they've ever seen before.


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Mad Russian, for FC:RS you mentioned that NATO relied on everything being at the right place at the right time, leading to a situation where if that did not take place they would be likely to lose to Warsaw Pact numbers. That was very true, and the same applies to a certain extent to the Germans in World War II. The US armed forces ended up taking more of a "good enough is good enough" approach, where they might not have the technological edge or an edge in training and experience over particularly German mobile formations until late 1944-1945, but they still ended up being good enough for the task at hand. Even purely from that perspective alone, it will be interesting to see how such an infantry regiment "choose your own adventure" game will play out. The influence of losses on experience in particular will be educational to follow due to how infantry formations tended to take the bulk of the losses.

This is where scenario selection and design skill comes in. The scenarios were chosen for their ability to portray the changes of men's attitudes and abilities as the war progressed. From the "Citizen Soldiers" that landed in North Africa, to the combat veterans that beat the German Army at it's own game. All the while keeping it's civilized outlook on life and not dropping down into the barbarism that is constantly calling. You still must win, but how you win matters.

As an officer in the United States Army you are expected to uphold certain ideals. One of those is to show your enemy as much force as is required to beat him but no more. Another is to show a respect for the lives of your men, so you don't make decisions that get them killed needlessly. Winning is important, keeping your men alive is important, looking yourself in the mirror at the start of everyday is also important.

That's the ultimate goal of BoC. To show you just how difficult the balance between the lives of your enemy and those of the people assigned to can be.


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Another question is the way the scenarios are linked into a campaign. If a certain battle is covered in a certain scenario, it is assumed we're participating in the decisive moment that could lead to Allied victory in that battle. We're not launching spoiling attacks or softening up enemy frontline positions through infiltrations or taking limited objectives, of one battle equals one scenario. That would also mean that the results come down to victory or defeat. Though this makes sense from the historical perspective (you want to cover the major engagements fought by the regiment), it might make the campaigns in North Africa, Italy and pre-Cobra Normandy seem more dynamic because we don't get to see or influence the lengthy period in between major offensives, if I understand the intention correctly.

You are an officer in the United States Army. Yes, you are expected to win your battles. You will be briefed on your objective just like any junior officer in any army. You will be given choices as to support levels, etc..., just like in any small unit action.

For example, you take extra support, you better win. If you don't your superiors and your men will lose a certain amount of faith in you. Resulting in tougher choices and responses later. If you win but lose a lot of men, your superiors liked the results but your men didn't. Now it's easier to get things from higher HQ but your men don't want to follow your orders so quickly.
Don't take the objective but don't lose a lot of men and you will find HQ not so ready to support you in the future but your men responding to your orders more rapidly. Everything has a cause and effect in BoC.


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We potentially draw replacements, something might happen through automated training or whatever to cover the lull in the fighting/static period and then we're back in action for the next big battle. Again, understandable from a game perspective, but I'm curious to see how that works out for preserving the feel of truly leading your formation throughout the war, instead of the "highlights".

You have a unit that resembles any team ever put together to accomplish much of anything. You have veterans and you have inexperienced men. It's up to you how you use them. Do you send the veterans on patrol and use their special skills? Or the new guys so they can learn those skills and not get any veterans killed? The Burden of Command falls squarely on  your shoulders.

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From that perspective, from the immersion I think I would personally prefer less very detailed decisions like sending a medic to a platoon or company leader, and more overall decisions on deciding my own moves and responding to enemy movements. It might feel somewhat like a bit of a disconnect from history if, as a regimental commander potentially one or more kilometres from the leading companies, I have to make decisions that in real-life would not be made by me because I either wouldn't know about them until it's too late (the Captain might be dead before the radio works or a runner gets to regimental HQ) or would not have the power to influence them. In that case, there's the balance between the game feeling like a leadership simulator and "babysitting" individual units. The unit density seems to be limited, so it might be a purely theoretical issue.

We are still a ways from having all the mechanics, situations, etc. set in stone. That's why we are still taking playtesters. The decisions you will be making will be at the company or platoon level. The game is very much a small unit experience. You will be given choices of force multipliers and command options in accordance with that pay grade!  :D


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Anyway, I'm looking forward to it and I'd be happy to help with playtesting if that would be appreciated.


You can sign up as a playtester at

http://burdenofcommand.com/contact

Thanks for a very thought provoking post and the interest you've shown in the game.

Good Hunting.

MR
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 08:02:42 PM by Mad Russian »
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Offline Con

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #38 on: July 02, 2017, 10:43:19 AM »
Excuse the short post writing this on an iPhone so probably will have some weird autocorrect errors
1 like the concept very much. Reminds me of old beer and pretzels (BAPS) tabletop skirmish game rules. Each soldier had to draw a chit for their actions which was influenced by the commander. Better commanders could counter bad individual soldier decisions but only within command range and only so many.
2. For stress instead of timers on turns etc how about timers on decisions when events occur like witcher 3. If player doesn't choose them random choice made for them.

Con

Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #39 on: July 02, 2017, 10:52:25 AM »
Thanks for your comments Con.

Stress application is still being worked out.

All recommendations are being considered.

Good Hunting.

MR
The most expensive thing in the world is free time.

Offline lhughes42

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #40 on: July 02, 2017, 11:59:48 AM »
ComradeP great questions. I feel your pain because I'm feeling it for myself right now. I would be a filthy liar if I said I had good answers to some of those mind benders LOL.   Luckily I have a Mad Russian to be coherent here. Part of my leadership style is letting the smart guys take the bullets LOL. Seriously these are big issues. I won't repeat Steve much but one key here is that this game is about the experience of leadership more than 'winning.'  Therefore, we get some novel ways to approach some of the problems you so eloquently raise.
  Also, scenario designer for UoC?! Wow. Hats off. Love that game. Brilliant design (though jeez the original Stalingrad campaign start was a tough one).  Been following UoC 2 closely.  Love UoC too because written in part in Python (our base). Gives us hope! 
  We'd love your experience as a playtester potentially. Please signup if you haven't already at the button at http://burdenofcommand.com/contact  so you're in the proper pipeline 8-)
    Great substantive conversations here, like the commentary just posted by Con. Hmm better get Steve up front again!
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 12:13:57 PM by lhughes42 »

Offline Richie61

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #41 on: July 02, 2017, 12:01:42 PM »
Burden of Command looks like a must buy for me. Guess I need to find a job now to buy more games!  :D
Ed
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Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #42 on: July 02, 2017, 12:08:47 PM »
Burden of Command looks like a must buy for me. Guess I need to find a job now to buy more games!  :D

Hello Richie!!!

Seems like you've been either playing my scenarios or buying games I've helped develop for most of my life now!!!  :notworthy:
It's been awhile since the old CM days!

Nice to see you join in the discussion with this group!

Good Hunting.

MR
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Offline lhughes42

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #43 on: July 02, 2017, 12:14:36 PM »
Richie I want your Avatar. what's that from? Shame on me for not recognizing it I bet.

Offline ComradeP

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #44 on: July 02, 2017, 12:26:26 PM »
I applied for playtesting. For clarity's sake: I designed the scenarios, aside from one or two hypothetical ones, for the UoC DLC's. I tested, but otherwise had no influence on, the original game.

When it comes to decision making, removing the percentages (or having an option to do so) would already help to introduce stress. Though you are, in a way, always gambling with the lives of your men and yourself as a commander, it might be more immersive if it's not done so openly through a percentage chance of something happening. It would also, over time, train you to get a feel for which choices are unlikely to work, but which might be benificial if they do, and which choices are more likely to work but bring their own consequences into play.

QTE's are the main reason why I don't play any of Telltale's "choose your own adventure" games, so I'd have some difficulties in dealing with a strict timer.

Also: for some reason I keep forgetting you were attached to the PC:O team as well Mad Russian, I just read it on the Team page on the BoC website. That was one game where I enjoyed trying to find an optimal strategy, with the highlight being knocking out a few KV-1E's with Panzer 38(t)'s firing APCR ammo from spitting distance for the AAR I posted at Matrix.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2017, 12:30:03 PM by ComradeP »
The fact that these people drew inspiration...and then became chicken farmers - Cyrano, Dragon' Up The Past #45