The Stupid, It Burns! Part 2

WARNING: If you don't like blogger drama, then I suggest skipping this article. Since Stelek went to the effort of writing a 2,000 word essay about my "n00b designer" comment, I feel I owe it to him to write a response. I'll be as brief as possible, but the summary is "Stelek is actually insane".

Note: The quotes from Stelek's article are in italics and quotations marks. My responses are in red text.

This is a long one, so let's start with this gem of an accusation:

"You might KNOW a famous game designer, but you are not one yourself."

Strangely enough, I've been a professional game designer for almost two decades. I *know* Richard Garriott because I used to *work* for him (he hired me in the early 90s as a game designer). I've held senior design positions at companies like Origin Systems, Electronic Arts, Microprose and Maxis. In 1998, I left a role as Creative Director at Microprose to start my own company (at the time, I was the lead designer for Civilization IV).

I have design (and producer) credits on a gazillion titles. Two months ago, I sold my *fourth* game development start-up to a social network in San Francisco. Now I'm in charge of bringing games to more than 8 million players a day.

So I would argue that I know a thing or two about game design.

"So I've noted a few things that are actually worth replying to over on Chainfist, talking about my little Lufgt Huron character Mkerr didn't like.

Why bother?"

Because I've wounded Stelek's narcissism and he can't control his defense reaction. It's all part of being crazy. You can read about Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) here. Read the wiki article and I think you'll agree with me -- he has it.

This is my favorite part: "Though individuals with NPD are often ambitious and capable, the inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional achievements. With narcissistic personality disorder, the person's perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments."

Inability to tolerate criticism? Lack of empathy? Difficulty working cooperatively? Difficulty maintaining long-term professional achievements? Hypermanic moods? Perceived fantastic grandiosity not commensurate with his real accomplishments?

Sound like anyone we know? Wow, that's pretty freaking dead-on.

"Just fyi, I've playtested most of GW's Codices and main rules since 1995. You haven't, by the way."

Neither has he. The difference is that I've never made any of false claims and don't have an uncontrollable need to embellish my accomplishments.

"I've also playtested dozens of PC games, tons of D&D, most of the FoW rules and codices in the past three years, and I spent almost a decade helping playtest and design the game now known as A World At War."

One of the neatest things about being a small part of a really big fan-based blog is that you have access to people at the companies you write about. People who return your emails and calls pretty quickly. So let's address those claims individually...

"I've playtested most of GW's Codices and main rules since 1995"
I went back through my stacks of GW books dating back to when 2nd Edition was released in 1993. In the credits, the company often thanks the playtesters and provides additional thanks to people who contributed to the product. There are hundreds of people listed in the dozens of books and supplements released over the last 15 years.

No Andrew Sutton.

So I contacted a friend that has been at GW since the early 90s and asked him if there have been any playtesters used in the US since 1995. According to him, playtesters (also known as the "Honourable Order of Tech-Priests") are almost exclusively selected from outside the United States. There have been a few groups used in the US, but none since the Ork codex (in 2007) and *never* in the state of Utah (the last group was in Florida).

He'd never heard of Andrew Sutton.

"I've also playtested... D&D"
For three years, D&D Fourth Edition was tested by a massive number of playtesters. Wizards of the Coast was nice enough to give each of these playtesters credit in the actual rulebook (starting on page 316 -- here's a link).

I contacted another friend who was a senior marketer at Wizards of the Coast (and was instrumental in the release of D&D 4E) and asked if *every* playtester involved in the development of 4E was included in the list of playtesters. My source assured me that meticulous care was taken to record the playtesters during the three year playtest period. To quote: "if he playtested the product, then he was in the list".

I also went through every 4th Edition rulebook that I own that listed playtesters and special thanks (I even went through my 3.5 Edition rulebooks). Again, hundreds of credits.

No Andrew Sutton.

"I've also playtested... most of the FoW rules and codices in the past three years"
Interestingly enough, I just had drinks with the guy that runs Battlefront Miniatures at Adepticon. He had all of the Flames of War books on hand. Guess what?

No Andrew Sutton (the FoW guy had never heard of him either).

The only playtest credit I could find for Andrew was on "A World at War:". No design credit, just a playtesting credit (pretty sad for "almost a decade helping playtest and design the game").

"I've also playested dozens of PC games"
I searched a couple of video game databases for variations on Andrew Sutton, including MobyGames (which includes game credits for more than 30,000 video games on 90+ different platforms).

No Andrew Sutton.

One of the neat things about being an old-timer in the games industry is that I have people that actually develop games in my cell phone. So I called around and asked some friends about external playtesters. These are guys that develop major products, including Star Wars: The Old Republic.

No Andrew Sutton.

"So before you take slingshots my way about how poor a game designer I am, note I've got plenty of experience doing just that"

If he has any experience as a game designer, I can't find it.

"Mkerr says he playtests, but then these minidexes show up that are the old GW pattern--fix everything broken from last edition, ignore current rules, and overpower the shit out of everything while making the list itself either so broken as to be unplayable or so powerful nobody will allow it."

I just checked on the number of downloads for my Ordo Hereticus Strike Force minidex. It's been downloaded more than 30,000 times (more than a dozen times today). I've received hundreds of emails thanking me for the minidex, and a ton of playtest responses. The OHSF is the *least downloaded* of the minidexes I've worked on. Last time I checked, the fan-based rules I've written have been downloaded more than 250,000 times.

"So playtest with people who have actual playtest experience."

One of the main playtesters of the OHSF was Stelek's partner at YMBH, StJohn70.

"Yet, my message has finally beaten down the doors at GW and the economic reality is--the way I prefer Codices and the game design, produces far more in sales than the old quickbang way GW was doing things. It's not, by any means, ALL me, or ALL my doing. Far from it. I put out a clear dissenting message to GW, and GW listened."

So Stelek becomes so unhinged here that he lets us in on his delusion. He actually believes that people at GW are listening to him and he has some influence over their development. Well, he doesn't think it's *all* his doing -- just most of it. He believes he's *saving* GW by condemning them at every opportunity.

"Now I've thought about this, and really...I feel kind of bad, picking on you."

No, he doesn't. He is feeling narcissistic rage because I've criticized him. He is reacting exactly as the Narcissistic Personality Disorder article suggests:
"People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight criticism, real or imagined. To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility. In the case of feeling the lack of admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation the person can also manifest wishes to be feared and to be notorious (narcissistic supply)."

Just like he's not going to be able to control himself from reacting to this article. He really needs help from a qualified mental health expert, and as long as YMBH readers keep giving him the adoration his disorder needs, he's not going to get it.

>> Now we return to our regularly scheduled program -- I've got more Daemon Weapons in the pipeline! Hopefully this will be the last "Yes, My Butt Hurts" interruption on Chainfist. Unlike Stelek, I'm capable of empathy and I'm actually beginning to feel sorry for him and his family.

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