Category Archives: Opinion

Mobile Frame Ship Zero: High Seas (pt.1)

One of the great things about a simple, elegant rules system like Mobile Frame Zero is that it lends itself so well to other applications. I’ve seen people talking about using it for fantasy battles a la Lord of the Rings; spaceship combat; modern military combat. One thing I haven’t seen, however, it using it for naval warfare.

Escort CarrierThis line of thinking has been inspired by a number of wonderful microscale Lego ships such as those scattered about this article. Most of these aren’t much bigger – or more brick intensive – than your average MFZ frame. Ships also lend themselves to the attachment based system of MFZ: close in defence systems (melee weapons), gun turrets (direct fire weapons), missile launchers (artillery weapons), radar systems (spotting), hydrofoils (movement), and so on.

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Articulate!

A few months ago there was a very worthwhile discussion at the Mobile Frame Hangar on the subject of articulation in mobile frame builds. I don’t just say that because I started the thread. The responses and discussion were very useful. A recent design by a very accomplished builder got me thinking about this subject again.

Kinetic Acceleration Combat Armor

K-Frame by Brian Kescenovitz

Now, this design by Brian Kescenovitz is a minifig scale hardsuit, rather than a mobile frame. However, take off the head and replace it with something more mecha-y and, et voila, you have a mobile frame. I think this is a wonderful bit of building: immensely poseable and full of character. The range of movement built into such a compact design is quite remarkable (look at the image at bottom left for a great example of dynamic posing.) There’s little that’s wrong with it. Or is there?

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The Vexed Question of Pseudonyms

It is – to my mind – quite sad that even when you try to have a reasoned discussion online, it invariably gets dragged into name-calling and abuse. Part of this – as I see it – is the pseudonymous nature of online debate. I’m careful to use my real name online. I find it makes me take ownership of my statements and argue in good faith. Now, I do not for a moment suggest that everyone who decides to use an online handle is by extension going to argue in bad faith and be abusive. However, it is a contributory factor in many situations.

Where the hell is this coming from? Well, in the discussion on the prevalence and acceptance of fascist/Nazi symbolism within the gaming community (a discussion that grew out of comments made by me on the Mobile Frame Hangar) it eventually descended into anonymous name calling. Now, if you want to behave like a child and go “Ooooh! You smell!” that’s fine. Just don’t do it here. And, to direct my bloviating at one particular poster for a moment: you do realise that “Politically correct shit. Hope you die of cancer bitch.” is a pretty unpleasant thing to say, right? But, congratulations, you manage to combine hatefulness, total lack of reflection, and sexism into one glorious whole. Go you. Bet your parents must be so proud.

There’s another thing that I should point out (and I did so in the very last post of the above linked thread, but it bears repeating.) The active MFZ community is pretty small (I mean, it’s not exactly the WoW community or Star Trek fandom.) There are threads where people are trying to find games. Threads where people say where they live. WordPress logs the IP addresses of posters. Now, either there are a lot of MFZ players in certain very definite places (somewhat unlikely, but possible) or I know exactly who Some Guy That Thinks Your A Fascist (posting from somewhere in the vicinity of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), Some Other Guy Who Also Thinks That Your A Fascist (unidentifiable, bonus points for at least using a proxy server or something), Your As Intellectual As My Arse (posting from somewhere around Linden/Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA), and Approve This (posting from Portsmouth, England, UK) are.

As I said, it might be the case that this is a coincidence. Or that there are big communities of MFZ players in certain towns in certain states in the USA or certain cities in the UK. Or, using my Holmesian powers of deduction, it could be that I know exactly who is anonymously posting here. Which is kind of weird, as if it is who I think it is, then you’re already using pseudonyms.

What’s the upshot of all this prattling on? From now on, any non-constructive comments will simply not be approved or will be deleted. This is a place for civil discussion in good faith. I have no interest in pandering to the lowest common denominator just for the sake of ‘the community.’ You are welcome (and indeed encouraged) to disagree, to dispute, to discuss. But attack the ideas, not the person.

The Vexed Question of Names

If you follow the goings on at the Mobile Frame Hangar. You may have noticed a recent thread where there was a fairly heated discussion of naming conventions, Nazism, and the place of symbolism. I will admit that it was my initial contribution that kicked things off. The debate got a little heated and Mantisking wisely decided to exercise his moderatorly powers and lock the thread for a period.

Some on the forum feel that those of us who point out such things are being mean-spirited, unfair, or accusatory. Others on the forum support the viewpoint that fascist symbolism is a worrying trend in gaming circles. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, I would like to use this post to outline why I said what I said, and what I think it all means within the context of what is – after all – just a game.

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Everyone’s A Critic

This is a modification of, and expansion on, comments I made in this thread over at the Mobile Frame Hangar.

As builders, we all aspire to improve our Lego creations, whether through observing the work of others, studying arts, pre-planning and sketching, or paying close attention to things like use of colour. One way to really improve is to work in an environment of both support and constructive criticism. It’s something that – from my point of view – we are still lacking in the Mobile Frame Zero community.

In the discussion thread about this very topic, Joshua commented:

“Critique isn’t about whether or not you like something. It’s about asking the creator questions that they can answer at their discretion in a future iteration. Keep in mind that your opinion is only your own, but the creator is the creator. Don’t give advice unless asked specifically in a follow-up. It’s not about you. it’s about the person who created something and was nice enough to show you it.”

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Shut Up And Read Understand The Damn Rules

Sometimes, as people who enjoy games, one of our first reactions is to go “Hey! That rule doesn’t sit well with me. Let’s remove or change it!” In many cases, this will be a considered opinion based on actual play and a thorough understanding of the interplay of different components. In many other cases, it will be a kneejerk reaction based on no play at all and a complete failure to understand how different rules elements interlock.

It’s especially irritating when people demand (I use the word advisedly) rule changes based on not having played the game. What? Mechaton/Mobile Frame Zero has been around for a long time. The rules have been rigorously tested, gone through thousands of hours of play in the hands of a wide spectrum of different people. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here and suggest that your reaction on skim reading the rules is probably so cockeyed as to be looking in two different directions at once. I should make clear at this point that I’m not talking about the back and forth feedback on the draft rules to clarify certain points. That’s all good. But I just know someone will have a failure of reading comprehension, take umbridge, and think that’s what I’m talking about.

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