Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
 
Raph called it

In 2007 Raph Koster posted on his blog that there is a universal curve of player numbers over time which all open big virtual worlds follow. This week Bloomberg posted a chart showing Pokemon Go user numbers, and not only are these already declining, but they are declining in the slow fashion that Raph's universal curve suggests.

The reason I tried Pokemon go last month for about 3 days before deleting it for being boring was not that I am a Pokemon fan (sorry, I can't even name all 150 basic Pokemon), but because I recognized Pokemon Go as an "open world MMORPG". Just that the open world was a 1:1 copy of the real world, and thus sometimes has curious access restrictions. It does have the MMORPG network effect, becoming more interesting when more people play it, so it following the MMORPG user number curve is no surprise to me at all.

Note that while the general *shape* of the curve is universal, the time from start to peak isn't. World of Warcraft took a long time to peak (although one needs to mention that the WoW curve is the overlap of the curve of the base game with the curve of the expansions, which prolong longevity), while Pokemon Go peaked after two weeks. For me that "time to peak" is a general measure of how long the game can hold the interest of the players. For very simple games like Pokemon Go the time is rather short. But even for a complex MMORPG the time to peak can be as short as a month, if the game uses a lots of mechanics and features from previous games and is thus perceived by the players as not being all that new.

Blizzard stopped this year of reporting World of Warcraft subscriber numbers. But they are easy enough to predict. In a week or two the subscriptions will be back up to over 10 million, although less high than at the release of Warlords of Draenor. And a bit later the next phase of decline will set in, bringing WoW a year after Legion to less subscribers than a year after WoD. Because somewhere hidden below the quarter to quarter changes from each expansion is Raph's universal curve.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016
 
Zeitgeist: The Dying Skyseer - Session 09

In the previous session the constables of the Royal Homeland Constabulary captured two dragonborn arsonists. This session started the next day, in the morning, with the group assembling in front of the RHC headquarters before their daily status meeting with their boss, Stover Delft. It is the 6th of Summer (in a calendar that just has seasons, not months), and this being a nice day the group is standing outside chatting for a while before going into the office. At this point a sudden breeze rises up and carries a yellow canary towards the group. To their surprise the canary speaks with a women's voice, with a slight Danoran accent.

The voice is the one of Gale, the "eco-terrorist" the group is supposed to pursue. In previous sessions the constables had helped an old skyseer who is a friend of Gale, and had asked him to organize a meeting. Now Gale is offering such a meeting, at the time of the group's convenience, but in her territory, the Cloudwood. The group accepts and plans the meeting for the early afternoon of this same day, starting from the RHC HQ at noon, guided by the canary.

But first they hold the meeting with their boss. They don't tell him about negotiating with Gale, and pretend that they arrested the two arsonists because of a possible connection to her. Gale is suspected to be behind factory arson attacks. Stover Delft is satisfied with their progress and sends them off to interrogate the arsonists. In the possessions of the two dragonborn they find a magical staff, and a portrait of a man with a beard, which they recognize as being Dr. Wolfgang von Recklinghausen. They had already heard about the doctor as being the last person to speak to Nilasa before her death, and having received a bundle of something, possibly documents, from her.

Interrogating the arsonists revealed that they are criminals for hire, but had one repeat customer in Flint, a hooded, shadowy man whom they met only once and who communicates with them via letters now. The group concluded that this was the same man seen shooting Nilasa, and also the same who sicced the phantoms on Cauldron Hill onto them. The factory arsons were ordered by this man, and he also asked the two dragonborn to kill both the Danoran security chief Julian LeBrix and the doctor. Having failed at their latest arson attempt of Heward's factory as well as both assassination attempts, the two dragonborn didn't have any recent communication from their employer. The dragonborn had tracked down the doctor to an old theater in Parity Lake, but that was the headquarters of a local gangster boss, Lorcan Kell, and apparently the doctor was under Kell's protection, so they couldn't get to him. That sounded like a promising path of further investigation, but first they had to meet Gale.

The canary led the group to Cloudwood, to the top of a waterfall. Gale approached them, floating over the water and staying out of melee range. The group had previously agreed among themselves to hear her out instead of directly trying to arrest her, and the situation didn't look promising for an arrest anyway. Gale told them that she had with the help of a fairy friend a few months ago visited the Shadowfell, a parallel plane to the prime material plane, filled with shadow and undead. To her surprise she had detected that large construction work was going on in the Shadowfell version of Flint, somewhere around the area of Cauldron Hill. She has concluded that there was some sort of conspiracy going on, she suspects her enemy the Danorans. Gale believes that the Danorans are somehow bring materials from the prime material plane to the Shadowfell in order to construct some large weapon, maybe a battleship, there. If they could then move that weapon back into real Flint and start firing on the city, that could be a decisive blow in a future war between Risur and Danor.

So Gale believes that she and the constables have a common enemy and offers to help them to inquire further: She gives them a ritual that allows tracing planar energy. As the constables have been in contact with the planar energy of the Shadowfell on Cauldron Hill, the ritual should allow them to find the people involved in the weapon construction. Gale doesn't ask the constables to trust her, a wanted criminal, but to investigate themselves. Although some of the players have doubts about collaborating with a terrorist, they reluctantly agree, because from their previous investigation they do believe some sort of conspiracy going on.

Their first plan is to use the ritual in the vicinity of the theater where they think Doctor von Recklinghausen is hiding, to determine whether dark forces are at work there. While trying to find a secluded spot in an alley behind the theater to cast the ritual, they come upon a woman crying for help. Apparently two thugs have kidnapped the woman's baby and are running away. Against the protests of Merian, who would have preferred to remain inconspicuous, the group runs after the men and into a building.

There they are suddenly blinded by limelight, and find themselves having run onto a stage. In front of them is a curious character looking like a pirate and holding a bundle looking like a swaddled baby. The audience consists of 40 or so thugs, armed with pistols, and Lorcan Kell in a private box above. The audience spurred the constables on to provide a spectacle. Closer examination revealed the "pirate" to be some dupe from the road, totally confused. He dropped the "baby", which was fortunately out of wood, and cried out "Don't kill me! Don't kill me!". The constables decided to play along and chased him into the curtains, putting on a bit of an act with James even playing the piano. Aria considered attacking the audience with a spell, but none of her spells would have caught more than a few of the thugs, and it was clear that they would return fire immediately.

So instead the group addressed Lorcan Kell, and asked him to be allowed to speak to Doctor von Recklinghausen. Kell said that the doctor had paid for his protection, but the money was running out and he was looking for more. He said that he had another offer which he would have taken soon, but offered the constables to overbid that and pay 1,000 gold in exchange for the doctor. He wouldn't budge on the price, but agreed on not only leading the group to the doctor's hiding place, but also removing his guards there so that they could face him with minimal resistance. The group wasn't totally happy about having run into Kell's theater trap and the payment, but agreed anyway. After being led to an abandoned church in a cave in the Nettles, the group paid up and we ended the session there.

This session went rather well. I had been a bit afraid of the two encounters with Gale and Kell, because in both cases the group could have attacked, which would have resulted in no gain and less information for them. As it went they pretty much got all the information that they could have, and are now right on track for the third chapter of the adventure. And maybe they learned that negotiation is sometimes better than combat.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016
 
Choosing my look

For a lot of people playing a MMORPG, the look of their character is very important. So over the years in World of Warcraft systems that let you choose your look were improved. The latest pre-expansion patch again changed the transmogrify screens to give you a huge choice of possible looks based on any gear the system is aware that you ever possessed. You can assemble a look, save it, and apply it for a small fee to your character if his look changed due to gear upgrades. So far, so good.

But two of my characters aren't really profiting from this. One is my shadow priest. Shadow priests used to have the ability to change into and out of shadow form. But now they are permanently in shadow form, and whatever look you choose for them is barely visible in game. Even worse is my balance druid. His talent choices gave him a permanent buff, which like the shadow form makes him half transparent, colored either yellow or blue. But in addition if he wants to adventure, he has to change into moonkin form. So in spite of all those transmogrification options, he looks like a transparent yellow chicken most of the time.

I'm not sure that this is really such a good idea. At the very least these characters should have a display option to turn of the transparency. And ideally they should be able to turn off all look-altering class talents and abilities and appear like they look on the character screen. Otherwise, what good is the transmog system for them?

Thursday, August 18, 2016
 
Gamergate for president

How do you judge the success of a political or social movement? It used to be that these movements had stated goal and were judged on how successful they were to achieve those goals. But what if the stated goal isn't even true, but just a "beard" to hide a true goal which is too repulsive to be an official mission statement? Gamers already have some experience with this due to the Gamergate affair. The "success" of that movement, as far as there was one, was to keep the conflict in the media every day, and to keep pressure up against political correctness.

One of the major players in the Gamergate saga was the ultra-conservative website Breitbart. And guess who is now the new chief executive of Trump's campaign for president of the USA? That is widely accepted as a sign that Trump will stop to "pivot to the middle" as candidates usually do after fighting primaries at the fringes. Instead the campaign will "let Trump be Trump" and ban political correctness from the campaign.

That makes me wonder if becoming president is actually the goal here. Clinton is leading the statistical forecast based on all available polls by 88% against 12% for Trump. The demographics are very clear, there simply aren't enough angry white men living in the USA to win a general election. Clinton is widely disliked, but Trump is widely feared, even among registered Republicans. Going Gamergate on the US presidential election is extremely unlikely to result in Trump becoming the next president. So why do it?

I do believe that primarily this is an anti-establishment political movement. This goes beyond right vs. left. Of course if he could destroy the Democrat's establishment, Trump would love to do that. But if that goal seems out of reach, he'd be perfectly happy to just destroy the Republican establishment. Even right now the people shaking in their boots whenever there is a new headline about Trump are not in the Democratic party headquarters, but in the Republican one. By saying that the last weeks were not gaffes but the new Trump campaign strategy, he is setting up the Republican party to a world of hurt over the coming months.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
 
Forced PvP

I need to start this post with some bragging. I have been playing Magic the Gathering for over 2 decades in one form or another. While I never was a pro player, I did win local tournaments. I learned all the intricacies of the complicated rules and passed an exam to become a DCI certified judge, and participated in a World Championship as judge for the side events. I know this game *very* well. And in the mobile format on Magic Duels I own all possible cards, I know the competitive decks, and I know how to play them well. All this to say that I don't suck at Magic Duels. Given the relatively casual competition, I can easily crush most players in PvP.

But I don't want to.

For me, whether I am good at it or bad at it is not the deciding factor in PvP, winning isn't all that important to me. The question rather is whether PvP for any reason is more enjoyable than PvE. I can think of some games where that would be the case, e.g. political games like Diplomacy or Junta. But Magic Duels has a quite decent AI playing reasonable decks with good consistency. PvE is a pleasure because you know what level of competency to expect from your opponent, and you can choose 3 levels of AI to tune it to your needs. PvP is far more inconsistent, and you can meet all sorts of players. And PvP allows for some behavior that only humans show, like throwing games at the first sign of difficulty or abandoning a game for real life reasons. It is very rare that a human opponent surprises you with a brilliant move that the AI wouldn't have thought of. So in general PvE is less hassle and more pleasant.

So with that preference for PvE I played Magic Duels since it came out happily until the latest expansion. I play nearly every day, doing the daily quest plus maybe a few more games. But since the latest expansion those daily quests have changed, and at least half of them now require me to do PvP. Okay, I can change one quest per day, so I'm trying to change all PvP quests in the hope of drawing a PvE quest instead. But sometimes that fails and yesterday I had the quest journal full (capacity is only 3 quests) with PvP quests and was forced to do a couple of PvP games to clear it. Opponents bailed out in both cases, one directly after the mulligan he took apparently didn't produce his dream hand.

That annoys me. I don't think games that have a perfectly good PvE part and AI should for some reason force their players into PvP. Yes, some players enjoy PvP, but many people don't. You don't magically make your game more attractive by shoving other player's potential bad behavior into the face of your customers who tried to avoid that. The "added content" that other players provide is a cheap game developers trick that doesn't really work in the long term. Don't force players into PvP!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
 
Procedural generation and exploration

Three lines of code in BASIC writes you a program that prints out 10 randomly generated numbers between 1 and 18 quintillion. Now if you imagine thousands of people running that program and exchanging their experiences on the internet, the result is surprisingly predictable: Most numbers are about the same length (every digit shorter is 10 times less likely), all numbers have the same ten constituent parts, few people will report having seen the same number, and few numbers look really interesting like a 1 followed by only zeroes, or a recognizable sequence.

I am of course talking about No Man's Sky's 18 quintillion planets. Human minds are hardwired to pattern recognition, and the discussion of No Man's Sky has quickly resulted in a crowd-sourced pattern recognition exercise which revealed the similarities between all those planets rather than their differences. And how boring a sequence of random numbers can be. It also quickly sorted out the non-random lines of code (e.g. how to get an Atlas Pass) to create guides for the game, and even "walkthroughs", as impossible as that might seem. Like a number having only ten different possibilities for each digit, the animals were recognized to also have a limited number of possible body parts, randomly assembled like in a flip book for small children. Now some people managed to switch off their pattern recognition and just enjoyed exploring all those different worlds. But most gamers couldn't escape old habits and proceeded to try to understand how the game worked as quickly as possible, only to then get bored once they did.

I have played MMORPGs with procedurally generated worlds, like Anarchy Online, and frequently found the result not very interesting. Randomness frequently produces a certain sameness, and hand-crafted worlds like World of Warcraft end up having more truly interesting corners. Having said that, I recently watched a video with a fly-through showing off the new zones in Legion and found them boring due to the use of the same old trees and graphics elements that previous expansions had already used a lot. And who hasn't entered a cave in WoW only to remember the exactly same cave from a different zone? My greatest complaint about City of Heroes was that while the dungeons were randomly created, the number of different tiles used to build them was so limited that stuff repeated itself frequently. I have abused random quest generators by taking and abandoning quests until I found an easy quest with a good reward in games that allowed that. Random numbers and procedural generation of content doesn't always result in interesting content to explore.

On the other hand one of the most fun systems of crafting I have ever played in a MMORPG worked with procedural generation: Star Wars Galaxies had resources which changed every week. And those resources had stats, so you not only wanted to find a specific metal, but preferably one with high stats, and then find a location with high concentration for your harvester. That made for quite enjoyable exploration of different planets surveying for those resources. Much more interesting than a map of resource nodes which always pop at one of a series of always the same locations and which are all the same quality.

Maybe a good combination of hand-crafted content and randomly or procedurally generated stuff might be a good solution. I was intrigued by an announcement that in certain zones of Legion the quests and monsters would adjust to your level, so that you don't have to do them in a specific order. It is obviously too late now, but I could imagine the whole World of Warcraft remade with that approach: Hand-crafted zones with interesting locations and pre-placed quest givers telling the story lines of the zone, but the monsters and rewards being automatically adjusted to your level, wherever you are (with possibly some variation of easier content close to the main roads, and harder content hidden in some corners). That would mean that you would never outlevel a zone, nor would you ever be wondering where to go to next. You could go anywhere you wanted, skip zones you didn't like the look of, and still level all the way from 1 to 110 with whatever selection of zones you wanted. That sounds like an interesting game to me.

Friday, August 12, 2016
 
No No Man's Sky

After reading a lot about the game I was shortly considering to play No Man's Sky. That is until I went to Steam. First bad surprise: The game costs €60, which is far more than I would have expected for a game which replaces real content with procedurally generated one. Second bad surprise: The Steam reviews are overwhelmingly negative. A closer look reveals that the game simply isn't running on many PCs, or lags to an unplayable extent, even on machines with fast graphics cards.

Oh, and I found a positive review. It said: "The refund button works well!".

Somebody call me when the game is €20 and works. Christmas 2017?

 
Two evenings of content

Since the expansion pre-patch for Legion I played World of Warcraft two evenings long: One to play the Broken Shore event plus demon invasion once each with a Horde and an Alliance character, and one to level a Demon Hunter from 98 to 100 and out of his tutorial / starting zones. Those two evenings were pleasant enough. I liked how the Horde and Alliance cinematics told the same story from different angles; not quite "Rashomon", but nice nevertheless. But that was pretty much it for the pre-patch. Sure, I could farm those demon invasions for iLevel 700 gear, but why would I? It is only marginally better than the gear I already had, and presumably is going to be replaced by the gear I get in the first quest chain of Legion.

A lot of games these days expect you to keep playing after you ran out of new content. You are supposed to farm and grind stuff repeatedly for some sort of virtual reward, even if the gameplay has become quite boring by then. Some of the mobile games I'm playing, including Mobius Final Fantasy (which is rather short with just 2 chapters right now), offer some sort of auto-battle function. So I'm not even required to watch the screen any more while my avatar farms stuff.

In some way I am thankful for MMORPGs, who taught me in over a decade that ultimately all virtual rewards are worthless. I remember the fun I had with my guilds and other players far more than I remember the epic loot which was made useless by the next expansion. The few pieces of loot I *do* remember, like the mammoth cloak in Everquest, stick in my mind not because they were so great, but because I put so much crazy effort into achieving them.

I like to explore new content, and I like certain modes of gameplay, especially if they require thought rather than fast reaction. But I am not willing to grind any more for virtual rewards. Guess I won't be playing all that much WoW before the expansion arrives. Probably just once through all the quests they will still add week for week, and that's it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
 
My World of Warcraft status

I quite enjoyed the Warlords of Draenor expansion of World of Warcraft for several months. Which is probably why I decided at that time to pre-purchase Legion. Today I'm not totally convinced that was such a good idea, because the stuff I like in Warlords of Draenor (garrisons) becomes nerfed and useless in Legion. However the economic gameplay I liked about garrisons netted me over a million gold pieces, part of which I already converted into WoW tokens when they were still cheap (they doubled in gold price since). Which means that the combination of WoW tokens and Legion pre-purchase results in there being no further cost to me to try out the new expansion, other than of course the time cost.

So last weekend I patched World of Warcraft to the latest version and spent a WoW token on a subscription, but didn't do much more than cleaning up my inventory. Today (in Europe) the expansion pre-event starts, including the possibility to play the Demon Hunter new class. So I'm planning to play World of Warcraft tonight, over the coming weeks, and especially next month when the expansion proper is out. The general idea is to try the Demon Hunter and level at least one character (Warrior or Demon Hunter) to the level cap.

I'm keeping an open mind, and maybe I end up liking Legion. But I also consider the possibility that this is the last expansion of WoW that I'll buy, because right now I'm far from being enthusiastic.

Monday, August 08, 2016
 
VPN lifetime subscriptions

Recently I've seen a big increase in very generous promotional offers for various VPN services, including PureVPN which I use. You can get "lifetime subscriptions" at over 80% off, sometimes below the price of an annual subscription! As always in life, if something appears too good to be true, there is a hidden catch somewhere. In this case the catch is Netflix. While some people might want to use a VPN in order to protect their privacy, the large majority of internet users couldn't care less about privacy. If they buy access to a VPN service, it is to circumvent geo-blocking. And the most common application is using a VPN to watch the US version of Netflix instead of the local version, because the US version has a much bigger and newer offer of films and TV shows.

At this point in time the large majority of VPN services is not working with Netflix any more. Since the beginning of the year Netflix has increased protection of proxy and VPN services, and is now extremely good at detecting and blocking them. After long discussions with PureVPN customer support they finally admitted to me that they are currently blocked out by Netflix, and couldn't help me other that saying that "we are working on it". There are blogs about VPNs which can help you find a VPN not blocked by Netflix today, but nobody can say whether those still work tomorrow.

The legal situation of all this is doubtful. Of course the media companies say that using a VPN to watch Netflix is piracy, in spite of the fact that you do pay them via Netflix. But the European Commission proposes to ban geoblocking as a form of unjust discrimination, so they consider Netflix to be the criminals and not the VPN users. If I buy something physical, let's say from Amazon.com, the price doesn't change in function of my IP address (although of course I need to pay shipping cost if I want the stuff delivered to Europe). But changing my IP address can change the prices of services like air fares or car rentals I buy on the internet, which is of rather questionable legality, especially when I live in a "common market". And then of course there are now internet sites which buy that airline ticket or hotel room for you, using the lowest price found from all locations. If there is one type of sites that uses certain business practices and another type of sites specifically designed to circumvent those business practices, and neither of them is illegal, then probably the law simply hasn't caught up with those business practices yet.

On the business side, there is anecdotal evidence of people cancelling their Netflix subscription due to not being able to access the US version any more. Some journalists even suggest a link between the recent Netflix share price drop due to slow subscriber growth and the VPN block. And the generous promotional offers of VPN service providers suggest that they are feeling the pinch too. So in summary, be wary of those promotions if you wanted a VPN to watch Netflix or access other geoblocked services. You might buy a "lifetime" of a service that isn't doing what you wanted it to do.

Sunday, August 07, 2016
 
Mobius Final Fantasy

Unlike Nintendo, who only recently realized the value of the Pokemon brand on iOS and Android platforms, Square Enix has a long history of putting their brands on mobile platforms. There is a whole range of Final Fantasy games on the app store, from games developed for those platforms to console ports. Nevertheless their latest offering, Mobius Final Fantasy, stands out from the rest of the crowd. It does a great job of combining a "console feel" Final Fantasy with the touch controls of the platform. Due to one-touch controls, even the turn-based battle feels nearly like real time.

Having said that, you still need to be a fan of the JRPG in general or Final Fantasy in particular to like Mobius Final Fantasy. Like all games of the brand improving your power isn't straight-forward but relies on a very intricate and complicated system of leveling up different things at the same time. It takes some time to understand all the relationships, and the short tutorial popups only go so far in explaining them. But then you are rewarded with a very rich tactical combat gameplay, which plays better than many of the console Final Fantasies. Funny side story on complexity: Mobius Final Fantasy has a system which ranks your highest combat score against other players. If you end a fight without beating your high score (and you can't beat it if you fight easier mobs) you get a screen telling you how far in rank you dropped. It took me a while that this drop was just other players gaining rank, and not a weird system that punishes players for not beating their high scores in every battle.

As a mobile game, Mobius Final Fantasy has features like stamina needed for fights that recovers slowly over time. But don't worry, it is probably the most generous system I have ever encountered. I had to play for long hours before I ran out of stamina for the first time, because I kept gaining levels and stamina faster than I depleted it. Mobius Final Fantasy is Free2Play, and yes, it is possible to skip a lot of grind and buy fully leveled up cards if you want to, but the game isn't overly pushy in persuading you, and doesn't constantly hit you with paywalls. If you want to pay a bit, there is a good starter offer of a "Mobius Gift Box" for $20, which is a bundle of goodies plus a 30-day bonus on gathering skillseeds (which you need to level up jobs). But you can also get the magicite (currency you buy for real money) from the game slowly, so after like 2 weeks you can buy that same gift box without spending your money.

Talking of money, the game starts with a warning that it needs an internet connection to play, and recommends a WiFi connection. I haven't tested how expensive it would be to play over a 4G connection (and it depends on your data plan anyway). I did however notice that the game uses quite a lot of battery power, presumably because the graphics very much resemble a console game (well, PS3 rather than PS4, but good for a mobile game in any case). I'd play with the power cord plugged in, if that wasn't difficult due to the game being in portrait mode, and with a fixed orientation so that the power inlet is towards you when you play.

The highlight of the game is the combat system. It uses elements, but instead of having a circle in which each element beats the next, it has two pairs: Water against Fire, and Earth against Wind. Water is vulnerable to Fire, resists Water, but takes normal damage from Earth and Wind. Each job class has only 3 of the 4 elements, so you are encouraged to switch jobs around and not just play the same class all the time. In combat a simple tap on a monster launches a standard attack, resulting in some damage and the collection of some random element orbs. The 4 cards you chose for your character and the one card you "rent" from a friend give you elemental abilities that are powered by those orbs. As an added feature, many mobs have very high shielding, which first needs to be weakened with an elemental attack before you are able to destroy it with normal attacks. Once the shield is broken, you have a few turns in which your attacks, especially the elemental ones, deal massive damage to the health pool of the monster. Overall that makes for quite an interactive system, where you constantly need to look out what elemental orbs you have, what vulnerabilities and resistances the monsters have, and how their shields are. And, as I said before, all that with one-touch controls that make combat flow quite well.

In summary, Mobius Final Fantasy is a very good game for the fans of the series, and even for those who just want a mobile RPG which isn't completely trivial in its choices. The Free2Play features aren't too annoying, and in exchange you get to test the game out for free. Recommended!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016
 
Anti-establishment party

To many people it appears as if politics is what is reported in the media. But that is just the simplified tip of the iceberg. Every country has some complicated system in place where laws are made and put into practice. The systems and the laws are complicated by their very nature, because once you transform some easy to understand political slogan into law, you suddenly need to deal with and detail all those pesky details. You can say on a campaign speech that you want to restrict Muslims from visiting the USA, but once you want to make a law out of that you need to deal with questions how for example to determine if somebody *is* a Muslim. Ask him? A terrorist might simply lie, and the information about religion isn't part of passports. As a consequence most laws are huge piles of paper with thousands of words of text, and minor formulations can have important real world consequences. It takes a lot of experience and knowledge to draft a law, or to discuss a law in parliament without forgetting something important.

As a consequence most countries have a lot of people with a background in law as members of parliament. And there are a lot of career politicians who have been working in legislation for many years, so whatever law degree they don't have they can compensate with experience. The problem is that these lawyers and career politicians in legislation are collectively known as "the establishment", and there are strong political movements which are anti-establishment. But the minute somebody on an anti-establishment platform is voted into office, he has to deal with legislation, which is pretty much impossible without the support of that establishment.

I see that as a fundamental problem of the US Republican party at the moment. Their presidential nominee and large parts of their voter base are very much anti-establishment. But the people actually in office today and running things are very much part of the establishment. And the rifts are clearly showing, for example in the recent widespread condemnation of Donald Trump by Republican party officials.

It is definitely a possibility that Donald Trump becomes the next president of the USA. But whether he wins or loses, I don't see a possible scenario which doesn't end up increasing the rift in the Republican party even further. If he loses the establishment part of the party will blame the anti-establishment part of the party for the loss, and try to change the flawed primary process to come up with more convenient candidates in the future. If he wins, Trump will end up in constant battle with the other elected and un-elected Republican party politicians on how to get his ideas implemented. Many of his most talked about ideas are difficult if not impossible to implement, and it is unlikely that Trump is ever going to admit that when he can blame House Republicans for the lack of implementation instead.



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