times Eric Chiang's Transparency as IC Storyline Coordinator

26 Apr 2013 04:24 - 26 Apr 2013 04:52 #47740 by echiang
In the recent "Rules Team Rulings - 22-APR-2013" thread:

vekn.net/index.php/forum/6-rules-questions/47377-rules-team-rulings-22-apr-2013?limit=10&start=80#47676

Andrew Chirgwin (Juggernaut1981) questioned my transparency as former IC Storyline Coordinator:

Oh it was certainly important to me then as well. When I was on the IC, I viewed the VEKN as a very flawed organization but one that could be improved and I was hopeful that I could help in improving it. I readily shared that personal opinion to people I talked to.

And where was this public discussion? Or was it for instance primarily limited to Carl P and Jeff Kuta? Where is the evidence of your efforts to increase transparency in your own area - Storyline Events - and for example, transcripts or excerpts of the proposed storylines, playtesting results, background thoughts on the development of storyline reward cards, etc? If you would not do these in your own role when you potentially had the power to do it, why do you now insist that Pascal do the same?


I initially composed this response as part of that other thread but realized it would be better to separate it out to a new thread. Plus, Johannes has asked that people start new threads when appropriate. :)

Andrew (Juggernaut1981) asked for "evidence of [my] efforts to increase transparency," so here is my response:


* Much of this time covered the awkward transition period when people stopped using Usenet and were just starting to use the VEKN forums.


*** October 14, 2010: Ben Swainbank announces me as the new VTES Storyline Coordinator on the Usenet forums.


1. What Would You Like to See in VTES Storylines?
October 20, 2010

On the Usenet Group. Andrew, note that you were the first person to respond in this thread I created.


*** November 1, 2010: Paris EC adds me to the Inner Circle


2. Survey: What Promos Do You Need?
November 9, 2010

Survey: What Do You Want in a Storyline Kit?
November 10, 2010

Both threads I started on the Usenet Group. Andrew, you responded in both of those threads as well.


3. Any Interest in a Storyline at Origins (NAC 2011)?
January 16, 2011

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/598-any-interest-in-a-storyline-at-origins-nac-2011#598

(Also posted on Usenet)

Unfortunately there wasn't too much of a response. More importantly, a conflict arose that prevented me from attending Origins in 2011, so I decided to postpone those plans.


*** For details what I was doing during this next period, read the section below (behind-the-scenes e-mails and work).


4. Next Storyline Event?
December 29, 2011

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/19501-next-storyline-event#19522

Within hours of extrala's post, I had already responded. There was an update in the January 1, 2012 State of the VEKN, and after that I followed up with additional details about my storyline plans.


5. 2012 Storyline Progress Update
January 25, 2012

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/21680-2012-storyline-progress-update#21680

I created a thread to keep people updated on what was happening with the storyline. I would think that this would constitute greater transparency. And Andrew (Juggernaut1981), you were aware of this thread since you actually posted in it multiple times! ;)

I also created a separate webpage to specifically update people. The website is actually still up there (but now that I am mentioning it, I fully expect VEKN to remove it any minute):

vekn.net/index.php/storyline-events/2012-storyline-progress-update

I think the website and all of its details is a pretty good effort at transparency.


*** April 20, 2012: Carl Pilhatsch and I step down from the Design Team.


6. 2012 NAC Storyline Event
May 1, 2012

vekn.net/index.php/forum/26-north-and-central-america/29167-2012-nac-storyline-event#29167

VEKN is still interested in having me run a storyline event at the NAC, so I announce details about the event and promptly answered any questions.

At the time I was still Storyline Coordinator and this was the day I was removed from the Inner Circle.


*** May 1, 2012: Johannes and the rest of the IC remove me from the Inner Circle (which was news to me)


7. Plans for 2012 Constructed Storyline & Plans for 2012 Limited Storyline
May 24, 2012

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/31121-plans-for-2012-constructed-storyline#31121

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/31123-plans-for-2012-limited-storyline#31123

I publicly share what I had been working on for the Constructed and Limited Storylines but which I would no longer be able to run since I was being removed from my position.


*** May 31, 2012: I hold my NAC storyline event. After the NAC, I am removed from my Storyline Coordinator position.


8. March of the War Ghouls: NAC Storyline (May 31, 2012)
June 6, 2012

vekn.net/index.php/forum/9-event-reports-and-twd/31754-march-of-the-war-ghouls-nac-storyline-may-31-2012#31754

I promptly follow-up with details of the storyline. Note that I publicly share the results within 1 week of the event.

In contrast, it's now been 6 months since the EC 2012 storyline and we are still waiting to hear results from Mike Nudd. And the last query (by Lönkka on February 10, 2013) still hasn't received a reply:

vekn.net/index.php/forum/10-news-and-announcements/39450-storyline-introduction-a-ec-2012?limit=10&start=10#45150



So that covers my public posts. I was also doing plenty of work behind the scenes, which included getting feedback on the storyline events and storyline cards from a wide variety of different people and also trying to figure out logistics for storyline packages (which was a major bottleneck). Let’s see, doing a quick check of my records (I’m probably missing a few entries that aren’t showing up in my first pass through - apologies for any mistakes):


[November 2010]

Worked on storyline plans and getting feedback from:
- Ben Swainbank (former Storyline Coordinator)
- Robert Goudie (IC member and former Storyline Coordinator)
- Todd Banister
- +2 others that were part of Swainbank’s old team (their names are not for me to disclose)
- Ian Lee
- Tom Duncan
- James Coupe
- Kevin Mergen

E-mailed the following on discussing potential storyline kits:
- Oscar Garza
- Ben Swainbank
- Robert Goudie
- Jeff Thompson
- Johannes Walch
- Kevin Mergen
- David Tatu

E-mailed LSJ for research purposes

Worked with Tiago Brum (Portugal NC) and Pedro Luis (storyline winner) to brainstorm potential reward cards for the Friday the 13th storyline (EC 2009), which happened before my tenure as storyline coordinator.


[November & December 2010]

Worked on storyline reward cards and getting feedback from:
- Ben Swainbank
- Kevin Mergen
- Ian Lee


[January 2011]

Worked on logistics issues for storyline events, e-mailing:
- Ginés Quiñonero
- Andreas Nusser
- Johannes Walch
- Robert Goudie


[February 2011]

Still hadn’t heard much back from Oscar (on White Wolf being able to arrange storyline packages with leftover product), so I send a follow-up e-mail.

Corresponded with Brian Moritz on feedback for storyline events.


[April 2011]

Continue previous discussions on storyline events and storyline reward cards (with the same people previously contacted).

Still haven’t gotten any help from Oscar. Learn that he is leaving and that CCP is figuring out who will be taking over his responsibilities (CCP never did a good job covering that, and so I was never able to get any help on the CCP end unfortunately).


[Summer 2011]

Away for a summer program, which forced me to miss Origins. Sorry!


[September & October 2011]

Playing catch-up with what I missed over the summer.


[October 2011]

Private subforum for Storyline Design created on the VEKN forums. Got feedback on storyline events and storyline reward cards from Jeff Kuta and Carl Pilhatsch, and a little bit from Mike Nudd. Ben Peal said that he’d provide some feedback on the storyline events but never got around to it.


[November – December 2011]

Worked on the storyline reward cards on the Design Team forums (with help from Carl and Jeff).

Worked hard to get professional artists signed on to the artwork for the storyline reward cards. Ginés was art director, so he freely offered to do Claudio Severino Advanced (Friday the 13th reward) and the Baali reward card for Battle Lines. But I was the one who got Mark Poole to agree to do a Masika Advanced (Friday the 13th reward) and the Guruhi reward card for Eden’s Legacy (which would have had Eze the Demon Prince and Elizabeth Conde in the art), and Ken Meyer Jr. to do The Arcadian Advanced (Battle Lines reward card).


[January 2012]

Reached out to additional people to get more feedback on the storyline events:
- Ralf Lammert (extrala)
- Brandon Haas
- Ian Thompson


[January / February 2012]

Worked with David Tatu and Andreas Nusser to set up storyline packages for the storyline events. Had pretty much finalized things with David but was still working on ironing out details with Andreas.


[January - April 2012]

Storyline reward cards were being playtested, but I was constantly working on improving them as well.


[April 2012]

Reached out for additional feedback on storyline reward cards:
- Ian Lee
- James Coupe
- Brandon Haas
- Brian Moritz


So Andrew (Juggernaut1981):

I think I was very transparent as IC Storyline Coordinator and am "put[ting] [my] money where [my] mouth is."

There were several public discussions I initiated on Usenet and the VEKN forums. Discussions which you contributed to, which makes me wonder why you are asking if there were any.

And I contacted and solicited feedback (via e-mail) from many different people. And unlike the VEKN, I am actually providing names/details that can be verified.

Andrew, I challenge you to name (and provide evidence of) a VTES Storyline Coordinator who was more transparent than I was.

I will also assert that as an IC member fulfilling his responsibilities, I was easily among the upper tier when it comes to transparency. And I will also issue a challenge (but this is a *friendly* challenge :cheer: ) to any former, current, or future member of the IC, to be as transparent as I was (or better, even *more* transparent) during my time as an IC member and also through my transparency with this post.

And Andrew, since I did “increase transparency in [my] own area” and “in [my] own role when potentially had the power to do it,” I actually think that gives me A LOT of credibility when I ask Pascal (or the VEKN) to do the same.

Andrew, I really do want to thank you. (I mean this genuinely, not sarcastically). If it hadn’t been for your questioning of my transparency (which I don’t mind), I probably would have forgotten about some of my work, efforts, and accomplishments as IC Storyline Coordinator.

While obviously I wish I could have done more, I am proud of what I did achieve and want to emphasize that I was extremely transparent during my brief tenure.

It was an honor to have served the VTES playerbase and to promote the game of VTES, but I am also very glad to have moved on from the VEKN.

Yours truly,
Eric Chiang
VEKN Inner Circle Member & Storyline Coordinator 2010 - 2012

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Last edit: 26 Apr 2013 04:52 by echiang.
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26 Apr 2013 04:32 - 26 Apr 2013 04:35 #47741 by echiang

5. 2012 Storyline Progress Update
January 25, 2011

vekn.net/index.php/forum/5-generic-vtes-discussion/21680-2012-storyline-progress-update#21680

I created a thread to keep people updated on what was happening with the storyline. I would think that this would constitute greater transparency. And Andrew (Juggernaut1981), you were aware of this thread since you actually posted in it multiple times! ;)

I also created a separate webpage to specifically update people. The website is actually still up there (but now that I am mentioning it, I fully expect VEKN to remove it any minute):

vekn.net/index.php/storyline-events/2012-storyline-progress-update

I think the website and all of its details is a pretty good effort at transparency.


Note that the Storyline Progress website (publicly available since January 2011) includes the following information on Lilith's Blessing that people keep spreading misinformation about:

Storyline Cards & Playtesting
As mentioned earlier, the upcoming storyline reward cards are being fully playtested with the Sabbat mini-set. I do think it is important to clarify and correct some misperceptions about past storyline cards during the tenure of my predecessors Robert Goudie & Ben Swainbank.

After talking with many players and seeing a variety of forum posts and threads, many players are under the impression that *none* of the older storyline-related cards were properly playtested. While many storyline cards were not playtested (to the best of my knowledge), there were many that actually were playtested. Also note that there are non-storyline cards which do not appear to have been playtested (10th Anniversary being the primary example that is commonly cited).

Lilith's Blessing, Guide and Mentor, Infamous Insurgent, Karsh (Advanced), and Claudio Severino underwent three rounds of playtesting with the Heirs to the Blood set. Most of the time it's people claiming that Lilith's Blessing was never playtested. Though some people might be in denial of the facts, Lilith's Blessing did go through the entire playtest process. (Personally, I agree that it needed *more* playtesting beyond that but that's a different issue and the fact remains that it *was* playtested for three rounds).

Reverend Adams (Advanced) went through three rounds of playtesting with Twilight Rebellion. Of course, he was actually part of the Twilight Rebellion set (as opposed to being a standalone promo) but it's another case of a storyline-related card being fully playtested.

Treaty of Laibach and Nergal (Advanced) were playtested with Lords of the Night. It's arguable whether Treaty of Laibach is truly a storyline card, but I have always viewed it as a consolation prize for the Return of Nergal storyline. There were complaints that things were heavily stacked in favor of Nergal winning. If you ignore the Nergal wins, then it would have been a tie between the Followers of Set and the Tremere, so I like to think of the Treaty of Laibach as being a nod towards those results (remember that Baltimore Purge also rewarded the second place clan). In any case, Treaty of Laibach went through the full three rounds of playtest while Nergal (Advanced) went through two rounds of playtest.


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Last edit: 26 Apr 2013 04:35 by echiang.
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26 Apr 2013 05:15 #47743 by Ke.
This strike me as off topic, can it be moved to the egotistical sociopath trolling forum? — Oh wait, that doesn't exist. Maybe an "Generic echiang discusion" forum can be created and then duly ignored.
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26 Apr 2013 05:18 #47744 by Juggernaut1981
Actually Eric, you have still dodged the things you ask for from Pascal. All you have done is list some things which have been done for the development of Danse Macabre... public announcements and public polls.

The speed of your responses does not have much to do with transparency but potentially just preparedness or a life less cluttered by other activities. Also numerous posts does also not constitute transparency of process. Most political parties are well known for creating a forest of media releases whilst saying nothing.

When it comes to comparing Storyline Coordinators, I had little to do with any others so making comparisons would be unfair on those I had little to deal with.

My posts in public forums does not necessarily constitute transparency of your processes. Especially since the first one you mention is to clarify someone else's question and then followed up with comments mostly made to others; you yourself said little other than pointing to another location where you could make "press releases". Again, "press releases" are not contributors to transparency.

- What was your process for designing the storyline cards?

- What was your process for developing the storylines?

- What was your process for designing storyline rewards cards?

- What was your process for improving designs based on the feedback?

- What was your process for choosing people to give you advice on card design? Also, why did you not include Hugh Angseesing, Ben Peal or Pascal Bertrand who by many accounts were highly respected players long before they gained their current positions.


You also have not discussed key factors regarding your conduct since leaving the IC, such as:

- Why did the IC feel the need to remove you? Every person I've met who was fired was told why they were fired.

- Who were the members of the IC who put forward the proposal to remove you?

- Since the currently publicly available information suggests that you were taking actions contrary to the wishes of the IC, were these actions in relation to the cards you later released? Were they also related to the later threatened IP litigation?

- Why did you (and also Carl P and Jeff Kuta) feel the need to derail the design process of the VEKN (which was an established process) by attempting litigation based on IP infringement? What are the exact details of the IP infringed which is also IP which cannot be claimed to be owned by a third party (such as Hasbro-WotC and WW-CCP)?

- Why did you (and also Carl P and Jeff Kuta) then feel the need to publish PDFs of cards which you knew, from public posts, were not likely to be considered as approved VTES cards?

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26 Apr 2013 07:17 #47748 by echiang

Actually Eric, you have still dodged the things you ask for from Pascal. All you have done is list some things which have been done for the development of Danse Macabre... public announcements and public polls.

The thing is, I realize that with you so set on me and my "sinister agenda," even if I answer your questions you won't be satisfied. You'll just jump to something else, or say "oh but you didn't cover that."

Many of the questions you are asking are complex and unfortunately I don't have the time or energy to go into every single detail with you. Nonetheless, I will try to give a brief, succinct answer but most of them will not be "complete."

Also numerous posts does also not constitute transparency of process. Most political parties are well known for creating a forest of media releases whilst saying nothing.

My posts in public forums does not necessarily constitute transparency of your processes. Especially since the first one you mention is to clarify someone else's question and then followed up with comments mostly made to others; you yourself said little other than pointing to another location where you could make "press releases". Again, "press releases" are not contributors to transparency.

Yet you keep arguing that the VEKN is already very transparent. Where is the transparency in the VEKN?

- What was your process for designing the storyline cards?
- What was your process for developing the storylines?
- What was your process for designing storyline rewards cards?
- What was your process for improving designs based on the feedback?

The two Battle Lines reward cards were loosely based on prototypes that Ben Swainbank had developed before he resigned (which were in turn closely associated with the Motivation cards).

Similarly, the two Eden's Legacy reward cards were also loosely based on initial Swainbank prototypes.

I made initial tweaks to better balance them and consulted with Swainbank a lot as I developed them.

For the two Friday the 13th storylines, I consulted with Tiago (who wrote and ran that EC storyline) and the winner.

Some of the factors I considered in the design process:
- Card balance
- Canon
- Consistenty with the results/events of the storyline
- Trying to encourage new strategies and/or the use of older, neglected cards

Early on in the design process, there was no new set even on the horizon. So it was just a matter of brainstorming "just in case" the opportunity to print new cards ever came up.

I consulted with several people (mainly those who had expressed interested in storyline stuff) and also rules authorities (such as LSJ).

- Some of the cards provided new ways to become Bahari (and thus would ideally be less compatible with Lilith's Blessing and would actually result in alternatives to Lilith's Blessing).

- One card was intended to allow new options in making Red List / Trophy decks.

- One card was trying to fix the horrible basic version and in particular, a major drawback with that basic version.

- One card was trying to encourage the use of some of the crappier Baali. Unfortunately the latest version of this card was never seen by most playtesters.

As for the storyline idea, I recall lots of people grumbling about the direction the storyline went during the Goudie/Swainbank eras and all the emphasis on infernalism and/or Lilith. Instead, there seemed to be interest in a simpler storyline focusing on a clash between sects.

So I went with that direction (based on various posts) and went with a sect struggle over a city. With all the stuff happening at White Wolf, I thought it made sense to concentrate on Atlanta, plus there was plenty of good source material which I then used.

You might recall that the Limited storyline tried to bring back the Succubus Club and I recall consulting with LSJ and Robert to better understand the reasoning that led to the Succubus Club ban. And I recall LSJ'ing proof reading a lot of the card text for the preliminary storyline stuff.

- What was your process for choosing people to give you advice on card design? Also, why did you not include Hugh Angseesing, Ben Peal or Pascal Bertrand who by many accounts were highly respected players long before they gained their current positions.

I had already been consulting with LSJ, IC members, and people interested in storyline.

Hugh and Ben had not shown much interest in storyline stuff. Also, your question seems predicated on the fallacy that good players are necessarily good designers. They encompass different skillsets and don't always coincide. For example, you may have:

1. Good VTES players
2. Good VTES deck builders
3. Good VTES rules experts
4. Good VTES designers

Each of these is a separate thing. They aren't necessarily mutually exclusive (there are people that are more than one). LSJ was a superb rules expert and (I think) a great designer, but AFAIK, he was never particularly well known as a good player or deck builder.

Similarly, in rowing, I often see people make the mistake of thinking "X is a great rower, therefore he'll make a great coach!" But coaching requires a completely different skillset. The same applies in programming, where the best programmer isn't necessarily a good manager. Being a good player, being a good designer, and being a good leader/manager are very different things.

Back on topic: Before becoming Rules Coordinator, while Pascal might have been a highly respected player known to the French and Europeans, I don't think he was well known in the U.S. I didn't know who he was at the time. Plus, I was already getting some feedback from LSJ and James Coupe.

Once Johannes decided to do a new set and I joined the Design Team, Ben, Hugh, and Pascal certainly had access to the Design Team forum (which had accessible threads for the storyline cards).

You also have not discussed key factors regarding your conduct since leaving the IC, such as:

- Why did the IC feel the need to remove you? Every person I've met who was fired was told why they were fired.

I already did answer that:

At the most basic level: Johannes and the rest of the IC believed that my continued work with PCK was a conflict with my IC responsibilities.

- Who were the members of the IC who put forward the proposal to remove you?

I honestly have no clue. Since I was not part of that meeting, I was never informed.

You'll have to ask them. Feel free to. And even if you do ask and you get a response (which is unlikely), you don't need to tell me. It makes no difference to me so I don't care about knowing or not knowing! :)

- Since the currently publicly available information suggests that you were taking actions contrary to the wishes of the IC, were these actions in relation to the cards you later released? Were they also related to the later threatened IP litigation?

- Why did you (and also Carl P and Jeff Kuta) feel the need to derail the design process of the VEKN (which was an established process) by attempting litigation based on IP infringement? What are the exact details of the IP infringed which is also IP which cannot be claimed to be owned by a third party (such as Hasbro-WotC and WW-CCP)?

A lot of this covers Playtest and Inner Circle stuff, where one needs to tread very carefully especially since revealing information I had as a Design Team and IC member is likely to just open me up to more criticism (for simply revealing information regardless of what the information was). I'll need to take some time (likely a good deal of time) to figure out what can/should be revealed at this time.

As mentioned before:

1. I am under no NDA or confidentiality agreement

2. I do think that all of the Design Team and IC details (especially everything that led up to the "incident") should be made public. And I hope it is.

3. However, I think the ideal situation would be if the IC were to make everything publicly available, rather than for me to heavy-handedly "out" every single detail. If the IC were to take the initiative and make such information available, I would happily answer more of your questions in-depth.

- Why did you (and also Carl P and Jeff Kuta) then feel the need to publish PDFs of cards which you knew, from public posts, were not likely to be considered as approved VTES cards?

1. Although it was not likely that the VEKN would approve the cards, there was still a chance.

2. The VEKN != VTES. There are some players who might enjoy and appreciate PCK cards even without VEKN approval.

3. Although the current VEKN IC is obviously not happy with PCK, times change as do regimes. For example, I think the VEKN IC in 10 years probably won't care much about any of what happened in 2012 and might be willing to analyze the situation and the cards more objectively and less emotionally.

4. VEKN does not have to be the only game in town. For all we know, WW/CCP or WotC could decide to keep the license themselves and use it. Maybe Fantasy Flight, Alderac, or Upper Deck will end up with it. Not everything is about the VEKN because VTES is bigger than the VEKN.

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26 Apr 2013 08:13 #47749 by Juggernaut1981
- If you feel that you don't have the time or energy to go into all these details, why do you expect Pascal to go into all these details? Do you presume that he has more time or energy to answer questions than you do?

- I don't argue that the VEKN is very transparent. I argue that their PROCESSES are very transparent. Just because they don't give make the results of the process public knowledge doesn't mean the PROCESS is opaque. The PROCESS is simple for why cards might be errata/banned: Pester/Nag/Talk with Pascal. I also argue that YOUR activities were not transparent, just highly advertised. A lot of noise and comparatively little actual transparent substance.

- You have not answered the question about what IP you felt was being infringed (and not the IP of another party) or why you needed to engage in plans to litigate.

- Why do you discount the ability for high quality players to identify the ways these cards would potentially be used or broken? From your own admissions, these players may not have every skill but they had one skill which it would seem LSJ did not: being highly successful tournament players. They would be instinctively aware of card balance and tournament metagame. I did not equate tournament skill with design skill; you equated them. I basically said "Why did you not canvas the opinions of expert players DURING the design process before the playtesting was done?" As a contra-example the rowing: there are a number of top-ranked tennis players coached by former top-ranked tennis players. Andy Murray being the obvious example as he has been trained by Ivan Lendl.

- What actions were you taking with PCK that the IC felt drew you into a great enough conflict of interests that the IC felt the need to remove you from their midst? If you will not discuss this potential conflict of interests between your activities as PCK and your activities as a VEKN IC Member, how can we be sure that you are not acting in the interest of your PCK activities when you insist on courses of action by the VEKN? How can you prove to the PLAYERS that your actions are not to further the interests of PCK; interests which you believed were threatened enough to require litigation?

- If you are afraid of being attacked by members of the IC or VEKN for revealing details of your past decision processes, why should they not be afraid of you attacking them for revealing the details of their recent decisions? This is especially in the light of your past attempts at litigation; how could the VEKN trust you not to take litigation in the future if they did reveal information to you?

- I do not claim that VEKN = VTES, or VEKN = Players OR VTES = Players. You assume I do. VEKN currently has control of VTES. So at the moment, setting up a 'rival VTES' is basically attacking the VEKN. If you have such a vast problem with the VEKN, then establish your OWN players association with its own tournament rules, ranking systems, storyline systems and so forth. Potentially you may be able to, if you could prove your alternate players body was suitable, gain legal access to the IP required on your own.

- Why did you believe that the VEKN would accept cards in public that they did not accept in private? Were you hoping to organise some kind of 'mass of players' to effectively bully the VEKN into accepting your cards into the "official" VTES cards?

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