Hi there, fans of cards, corporations, and credits. The place is heating up for Spoiler Season, but we’re back at it after a short rough patch of bumpy Net access. I was not incarcerated for trespassing at all. Today, I have the pleasure of getting a few questions answered (with colourful imagery in 2D, retro style) to none other than Necro of ABR and KTM. No idea what these acronyms mean? No worries, nobody’s checking anyone’s street cred here today. Read on!
Vesper: Hello, Necro! I am very happy we will get to chat a bit about Netrunner in Central Europe, your path carved in games and code, as well as your plans for global domination of cyberspace through the Discerning Runner’s and Corp’s Event Platform of Choice™ - so, to make things easy let’s fire away with the first questions. What was the first game that you ever remember playing (doesn’t have to be a card one) and what was the first card game that made you want to play it again and again?
Necro: Hello Vesper! It’s my pleasure to be here. That’s a very catchy name you came up with, but let’s stick to AlwaysBeRunning.net or ABR :)
I think my first game was some classic “roll a die, take as many steps” as a small child. As for the card game, I started playing Hatalom Kártyái Kártyajáték (HKK) somewhere around 12-13 years old. It’s basically a Hungarian clone of Magic the Gathering. It was my first encounter with a CCG and the concept of deck building. I was captivated with the depth of the game and the seemingly endless possibilities. I know some of my best friends because of this gem. Unfortunately it suffered from a constant power creep and we lost interest eventually.
Vesper: That is an interesting tidbit. A recently met Hungarian told me about an original fantasy tabletop RPG called M.A.G.U.S. The gamer scene in Hungary must be quite lively nowadays! I recall playing a Polish “version” (more of a clone as well) of Talisman which had quite a huge following back in the day (90s).
It seems that if we couldn’t get the things we wanted from the source (thanks, Iron Curtain), we came up with our own solutions… Reminds me of a fan organization keeping a certain card game alive ;-) Speaking of which, how and when did you stumble upon Netrunner?
Necro: Yeah, I used to play M.A.G.U.S. It was our very own, “Hungarian D&D” with an extensive fantasy world and lore. The 90s was a mesmerising time to be a child. Geek culture was blossoming and there were clones of successful products from the West. Probably because the older generation didn’t speak much English. Also coming up with your own intellectual property was a good alternative thanks to licensing and translation costs.
I used to search boardgamegeek.com for new and exciting things to play. There was definitely some hype going on about the upcoming Netrunner game. Players of the original CCG were thrilled and the LCG business model looked great for the customer. So I jumped in.
Vesper: …and you found yourself in a local/national meta of players or did you have to build it up from scratch? What were the beginning of Hungarian Netrunning and what is its current status?
Necro: I did not play any role in the initial community creation, people just got interested and played. I remember having 15-20 active players in Budapest. I think it’s a bit less now, but we are still having some new people pop up now and then. The Central European community travels to its neighbouring countries for bigger events. Also I was working in the Netherlands for two years and playing Netrunner was a great way of making new friends there.
Vesper: So how did AlwaysBeRunning.net come about? Were you trying to make sure you don’t miss any events in any of the countries you were visiting or living in? Was it an idea thrown by someone at an event that made you realize you want to put a lot of time and effort into creating such a power tool? Or did you have a vivid dream of Director Haas demanding that you deliver a project that allows her to keep an eye on Runner activity based on scheduled behavioural patterns? Also, when will ABR become Skynet? ;-)
Necro: Well, I’m usually guilty of netdecking. I was really curious about what kind of decks are winning. This information was somewhat available via stimhack.com and acoo.net. First I made KnowTheMeta.com which calculated various statistics on the metagame. Then I was thinking about how to combine and streamline stuff. And thus the idea of ABR was born.
You can list upcoming tournaments and then publish results. The main focus was integration with other systems. You can import your existing NetrunnerDB decks and tournament results from NRTM or cobr.ai. You can add your videos from Youtube and Twitch. You can find nearby tournaments and weekly events on an embedded Google Maps. You can also sync the events you have registered to with your calendar app. And then all the data flows back to KnowTheMeta.com. I’m exposing my data via APIs, anyone interested is free to use it.
I haven’t added any AI stuff yet, so I would say we are safe from ABR going Skynet.
Vesper: That cross-application integration is one of the best features of the fan-made solutions supporting Netrunner at the moment. What’s your experience of working with other people building software and cool ideas to manage the game’s many aspects more efficiently? What are the biggest challenges you personally face when maintaining and developing ABR and KTM? Also, any cool features that we could spoil a bit for 2019?
Necro: My experience with other developers have been great. Everybody is friendly, helpful and with good intentions.
The biggest challenge is time. Development is done in my free time. I have to guess the impact of any new feature on the average user. Time spent on a feature that is only being used by a handful of people is pain. Manual testing or adding automated testing also takes a lot of time and still there will be unexpected hiccups. Big shoutout to anyone who reported bugs to me.
Sorry, no new big features planned. Currently I’m just maintaining the sites and making small changes if necessary. There is no active development ongoing. I’m grateful for any kind of support I get for all the time I put into these projects and keeping the servers purring.
Vesper: You heard it here, smart tech people - get on the case and make ABR future-proof. You’ll have a small army of users thanking you sincerely.
Now, returning to the game itself - over the years, as you’ve played, you must have witnessed quite a few events of various scales. What are your best memories from playing “organized” Netrunner and what do you think will the the future bring in that respect in Europe (and beyond)?
Necro: I have 3 events in mind for different reasons. 2015 Dutch Nationals, ~50 players, came in second. I count that as my greatest success as a competitive player. 2018 European Championship was the largest tournament I have participated in, it was great fun. 2018 Hungarian Nationals, I was one of the organisers, we commissioned our own alt art card, we had superb fun and nice prize pool, all the players were impressed.
Our own Lady Liberty
If NISEI manages to organise a European and/or World championship in mainland Europe that would be awesome. Hopefully everything continues on with the same hi-energy that is currently available :)
Vesper: I admit that the Lady Liberty alt art from Budapest is one of my personal favourites, not the least because I climbed that hill at least a couple of times :-) Allow me to scout a bit for tips on how to make a good event, then. As a seasoned and well-travelled circuit player, what do you think are good tips for someone who wants to organize a great event OR attend one and have a good time?
Necro: If you are organising, make your tournament stand out. Put it in a bank, help a charity, offer custom prize support, have some additional rules, go wild. Spend some time on making yourself heard: put in on ABR, post on FB groups, reach out to players, talk with NISEI organisers. By the way, have you heard about our upcoming event Continue the Run? :wink-wink:
Some ambitious prizepool
If you are a player, try not to stress. We cherish all runners, regardless how they did on the tournament. Be patient with new players. Allow takebacks if no new information was revealed. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice when the match is over. Get food or drinks together after the tournament, build a community.
Vesper: I kept nodding vigorously while reading your answer. Especially nowadays, when the community leads the game in so many ways, we need more enthusiasm, creativity, and passion.
Let’s hop out for a second and dig into the universe/lore - what are your favourite bits of the Netrunner/Android universe as presented by FFG? Also, what are you hoping for in that department in the future?
Necro: To be honest, I don’t have much knowledge of the lore outside Netrunner. I really like quotes from playable runners as flavour texts. Also corporate agendas tend to be very thematic. Aaand… I loved Elizabeth Mills’ smirky face on Scorthed Earth. Please keep referencing known runners and suits on cards, that’s my only wish.
Vesper: ...and if you could actually be a part of that (equally bright and scary) future, which faction or group would you be a member of? A ristie with a herd of teacup giraffes in tow or criminal scum in the underbelly of Mars? Or someone else? No, I’m totally not trying to see if you’re interested in playing that new RPG floating around ;-)
Necro: I’m already working a full time job for NBN in some sense ;)
Vesper: OK, fair warning to all readers - you’re being traced as you’re reading this.
Let’s get back to cards and playmats. We actually never faced off, so let’s imagine we just finished our two games - what would I learn about you as a Netrunner player?
Necro: You would learn that I play the “strongest” decks currently available, netdecked with small changes and piloted with little practise. Probably I’m a bit hungover from yesterday. I’m minimizing risks and learning new stuff as we go (“Wow, I didn’t realise that my deck has this synergy!”). I’m a competitive player, but I like to joke and stick around for the fun.
Vesper: I admit to having the same netdecking strategy… and the same “whoa!” moments :-) Are there any playstyles or deck ideas that you have never used in a competitive environment but would love to try out?
Necro: I wish the derez playstyle of Criminal would be more relevant. I pray for you, Rubicon Switch and bird breakers! I’m also looking forward to more virus stuff for Anarchs. As for corporations, I’m perfectly happy with the variety of playstyles that IDs bring. I hope there will be some unexpected new twists in the future.
Vesper: Your patience shall be rewarded, but I can’t spoil much… OK, the final question - what would you like to ask the next guest(s) I’ll be hosting in 15 Minutes?
Necro: Hmmm… What was your favourite deck so far and why? Thank you for having me, have fun running!
Vesper: Thank you for answering all the questions and giving back to the community through ABR & KTM!
And there you go! Now, stop reading interviews and get organizing those events, far and wide - and for the love of our Everlasting Event Emcee, don’t forget to share them with all the people who play the game! ABR might be just the place for that, just saying ;-)
//jumps down the Emergency Spoiler Avoidance Hatch™ to avoid spilling any Beans...talks.