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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Mike Holmes on August 09, 2004, 09:13:09 AM



Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 09, 2004, 09:13:09 AM
GNS has limitations, I think we'd all agree. One of the limitations is that it doesn't address the concept of player control, other than to say that without control you have simulationism. This leaves a bad taste in some people's mouths, because they see this as making sim a dumping ground. So, what if we put control into the model as it's own dimension? I think this would take care of a lot of concerns.

As a note, I'll bet this has already been proposed somewhere before (and I probably argued against it then).

Backing up to GDS, we have three goals of play. Roughly player challenge, theme, and internal causality respectively. Now, in GNS if you want theme, but the GM makes it, you have a form of Sim. How about a six mode model that takes into account player power as tangential to the desired product of play? Note when I say "low" player power, I could say High GM power, or something else - but any way that I say it, realize that it's not being judgemental about the modes in question. I think all six can be quite functional.

So, you'd have:
Challenge high player control
Challenge low player control
Theme high player control
Theme low player control
Internal Causality high player control
Internal Causality low player control

I really want to stay away from labeling these with currently used terms (to avoid exacerbating the GNS/GDS problem). So, for the moment, let's use GDS and H and L for power split.

What do these equate to in terms of previous analyses?

GH seems like classic Gamism at first, but GL could actually account for more Gamism than is realized. I mean, in D&D, for instance, the GM sets up the encounters so that they're on parity with the party. Does this really give the player the chance to test his abilities? In fact, it seems that the GM is enabled to make things "close" in most of these cases for drama's sake. This is an interesting fact. In "GH" a player would really have more ability to set up their own encounters, and "play the game," overall. Think more like a boardgame, where the GM is only a referee.

DH is narrativism, effectively. That is, the goal is theme, and the player is empowered to create it. DL was thrown into Sim, because the player didn't have the power to do one of the two other things. But here we see that the player can still want to have theme as the outcome, but may just want the GM to provide it. I have a strong urge to call this "Storytellerism," both for the game system, and for the nature of the product of play.

SH is what I've refered to as Open Sim (and also, probably, Virtualism), and what people are claiming is problematic with SL. By looking at it with this model, we can see where any problems between the two might occur. SL contains the mode that Participationism techniques are used to create, but also other forms of Illusionism (the latter intended to make SL look like SH, and have the advantages of each). The assumption, interestingly, is that in participationism and Illusionism, the GM's job is to keep things "Storylike" and to that extent is about creating theme.


See a pattern here? In the high versions, the expectation is that no real theme will get created, except for DH where the players are fully empowered to do it themselves. In the low power versions, the idea is to make it so that while the players do their thing as minor participants, the GM is simultaneously empowered to create theme overall (or, at the very least, Drama, if you go by the narrativism assumption that theme can only be created by the player).

This, by itself, creates an interesting model, I think. I think it does away with all of the problems created by player control being an issue with the other models (which I think are most), by addressing it directly. Note that, in terms of a spatial model, this takes the normal triangular GDS space, and makes a "prism" of it, with complete GM control at one of the flat ends, and complete player empowerment (with perhaps no GM at all) on the other end.

What's interesting is that I think it's accurate in some ways for play as it currently exists. In most of the texts there's something about how it's the GM's job to make things interesting. This is encouraging low player power, and the GM being in charge of making sure that theme is created. It would theoretically be possible, however, for the GM to be in charge of creating, say, challenge himself. That is, instead of creating challenge for the players, he'd create challenge for himself. In fact, when the design is effective PvGM, this is sorta the case. There's the question of whether or not the player is empowered still, making the possibilites multivariate. Very complicated. Fortunately, at this point, I think this is a small part of play.

Another advantage of this sort of play is that it gets rid of the perceptual problem that I think exists about what the GM does in play vs what the players do. That is, I think that a GM and players can employ narrativism, but nobody would claim that the results look the same. This model allows us to consider the difference, again. Thus Illusionism as a technique is seen as the GM's side (player accepted for coherent forms) of the equation. It's what he does to achieve the SH/SL feel for the players.

Thoughts?

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 09, 2004, 09:27:22 AM
I think your shorthand should be CTI and HL where Challenge maps approximately to G; Theme to D/N depending on HL; and Internal Causality to S. Initial impression: I like it.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Andrew Morris on August 09, 2004, 09:47:48 AM
Okay, this makes perfect sense to me, whereas I've been struggling with GNS ever since I came to the Forge. I don't have anything to add, just wanted to say it sounds good from where I'm sitting.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: ErrathofKosh on August 09, 2004, 10:17:02 AM
Hmmm...

I see similarities in this to GENder.  The C, T, and I are top tier concerns, while H and L are bottom tier.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 09, 2004, 11:03:03 AM
Interesting. I was going here myself in a sense. I've always felt that there's an invisible "slidebar" on some sort of control axis that gets slid one way or the other without being acknowledged.

I think someone suggested that a term for this be fidelity. See, a sim game (I'm assuming my most recently posted game in Actual Play would be judged to be essentially Sim) may not have a lot of "control" in the player's hands--it's not "here's a map, there you go." There are forces at work that they'll highly probably want to deal with (but are not forced to deal with).

Neither is a scenario that looks anything like the set up for Lord of the Rings (the dark army is going to march and win--but you have Sauron's achilies heel in your pocket).

In this case the GM's commitment is to fidelity (what-if) but the level of player control over the world is limited (Frodo can chuck the ring in a lake and go and open a tobacco shop and the GM and players can go through with that for a while--until the orcs come--but it'd be hard to explain how that happens in an actual, functional game).

So I might either create another axis of player input or just rename player control with "group commitment to fidelity."

You still get the same groupings but depending on the role of the GM the open-sim section may be a little less open ... and the high-fidelity Gamism section may turn out to be horribly unbalanced (the players go somewhere they're really not ready for and the GM lets the slaughter go down).

It's unclear what low-fidelity means with respect to theme (which is not a fidelity issue) but you could replace theme with Premise and see if that works any better (I'm not sure it does).

But, yeah, I think that axis exists and doesn't get sufficient mention most of the time.

I like it.
-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on August 09, 2004, 01:22:44 PM
I'm only just starting to get into GNS, but your new dimension makes great sense to me.

It could also be used to describe linear vs "open" scenarios.

For example, I ran a game where the characters are patients in some weird asylum. All I told them in the first session was that they woke up as complete amnesiacs. From there on, they explored the asylum, getting to know who the personnel was, what schedules had to be respected (and what happened when they didn't), etc.
They had high Internal Causality control, if I understand your idea correctly.

I believe it's a quite important part of the Creative Agenda (correct me if I'm getting this wrong, I still feel awkward with some terms) to make it clear how big player control is going to be. Lots of frustration can arise from there (it's also an impression I get when reading other forums).



I also came up with another thought:
The models are going to evolve quite surely, with different axes being added as new aspects of game are being identified.
And I'm quite sure as well that some matches will produce inherently flawed game types, just as some elements aren't stable on Mendeleiev's periodic chart.
I was wondering if you would find an example for all 6 game types you just defined* (because what is a model worth if it doesn't descrinbe something real?), but finally came to think that either it would be a new game type to try out (often models predict things that have not yet been discovered), or as I said in the last paragraph, be a flawed game type (and there's nothing wrong with that, imho).

*and for that matter: all 21 game types someone else might come up with


Hope this can be of interest to someone ;)


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Sean on August 09, 2004, 02:04:58 PM
Hi Mike -

This looks basically sound to me. You make a minor error in discussing D&D when you write "I mean, in D&D, for instance, the GM sets up the encounters so that they're on parity with the party." This is a big bone of contention among some members of the O/AD&D community, actually. I come from a school that says you challenge the players, not the characters - meaning you might give them a totally unbalanced encounter and expect them to either figure out to run away or come up with some brilliant way of beating it - making sure that you gave them the tools to do one or the other up front, at least in a subtle way.

But the minor error gives way to a much more important truth: that GL is in fact much more common among roleplayers and much more commonly facilitated by gamist designs. You only have to sit down to a game of Great Ork Gods, which is solidly GH, to appreciate this.

I wasn't able to make peace with what some other people on this board say about Narrativism until I started to regard DL as Narrativist play. Many earlier discussions on this board do suggest a confusion between these two things though. 'Narrativism' sometimes means DH and sometimes means DH and DL in past discussions.

So for the past couple of months at least (since those 'social mode' threads) I've come to see GNS along the lines of your CTI and treat player control as a totally separate axis. What you control is not what you're getting a charge out of and many people can get charges out of things they have little or no control over. There's this minor art form called 'literature' that speaks pretty highly to that possibility, I think.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Jack Aidley on August 10, 2004, 04:09:16 AM
I like it. I do echo the Hunter Logan's request to use CTI instead of GDS though.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Emily Care on August 10, 2004, 09:12:42 AM
Quote from: Jack Aidley
I like it. I do echo the Hunter Logan's request to use CTI instead of GDS though.


Hear, hear.  This is very useful, Mike (and getting away from the gns etc letters would be helpful).  I'd tend to think of the high-low player control split as centralized vs. decentralized. But that's me.

--Em


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Sean on August 10, 2004, 09:22:14 AM
I agree that using the term GDS is probably a prelude to massive confusion, but I think we need to answer another question before switching to CTI: namely, is this a more refined analysis of GNS, in which case it might make the most sense to keep the old letters while remembering these insights, or is this a new if related theory, in which case a switch to all-new letters might be a propos? I was pushing for the former with my post, but maybe that's not right.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Emily Care on August 10, 2004, 09:31:48 AM
The advantage to using gds is that people (generall) already know what it means. However, is that really what's implied by the theory? Is step on up part of the G axis here, or solely challenge?  Likewise is there more to D that is not implied by theme? IC and sim?  

In fact, it seems that this model takes certain parts of gds and creates a structure out of them.  It may be more accurate to use cti.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 10, 2004, 09:38:07 AM
Emily, Centralized/'Decentralized is, indeed a more correct generalization. And CTI is better. So to recontitute the chart (with examples for Christof that are likely to be disagreed upon as are all such model assignments):

  • CD - Player Challenge goal with Decentralized control (Great Ork Gods - thanks for the example, Sean)
  • CC - Player Challenge goal with Centralized control (D&D)
  • TD - Thematic goal with Decentralized control (Sorcerer)
  • TC - Thematic goal with Centralized control (Pendragon)
  • ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design - at best, GURPS and such might be played this way without problem)
  • IC - Immersion goal with Centralized control (CoC)[/list:u]

    Christophe, yes, "linear" adventures are a great example of design requiring a relatively high level of GM control. And, yes, I agree about the player control thing being big. GNS makes a big deal of this, but by making it part of one axis, it makes it harder to get a grasp on. Maybe.

    Sometimes it makes sense for a model to evolve, and other times it makes sense to merely replace the old model. So I can't say that more axes will make sense here. But who knows. In any case, this is a new enough model that the new terms are merited, I think.

    Quote from: Sean
    So for the past couple of months at least (since those 'social mode' threads) I've come to see GNS along the lines of your CTI and treat player control as a totally separate axis. What you control is not what you're getting a charge out of and many people can get charges out of things they have little or no control over. There's this minor art form called 'literature' that speaks pretty highly to that possibility, I think.
    Hmmm. I think this is sorta true, which is problematic again in terms of crosses. But I think some are incoherent. Basically there are three goals and four control possibilities. For at least 12 types. Hmmm. Examples:

    Immersion Goal High Player Control of Immersion
    Immersion Goal High Player Control of Challenge
    Immersion Goal High Player Control of Theme
    Immersion Goal Low Player Control

    Note that given that the Goal is what the players are seeking, it's my contention that the first and last are fine but the middle to are probably incoherent. Meaning that they're likely to produce play that doesn't match the goal. In fact, this is an easy way to look at incoherence in design, is the design giving the power to control some element that's not a goal.

    I don't even want to get into hybrids here, yet. :-)


    Marco, heh, fidelity was my term for the "sim" axis in the Beeg Horseshoe theory. It seems like you're using it for something else here, however. Fidelity in terms of Genre Expectations and drama. But, yeah, in general that seems to be what it's about. That's usually the goal. At this point I'm not sure that there aren't other reasons to give the GM more power - I think there probably are. So I'll leave it at power for now, and we can speculate about what it's used for.

    In any case, I don't think that there is a Low Fidelity as an opposite (high player power isn't low fidelity). That is, it's merely a question of who's expected to require it. The question of how much is, again, I think extraneous, and will vary from group to group. Even a GM with power to do so will only stress it so much. Complete control by the GM doesn't neccessarily mean reading LOTR, but telling any story he likes.

    Or do you see this as a third axis? That I could see. But, again, not as a primary mode thing. That is, I think fidelity is very fluid, and not likely to cause automatic conflicts of interest.


    It is somewhat like GENder in some ways, but with a cross instead of tiers.

    As for Theme, would you suggest Drama, instead? Or something else? Hmm. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't use more specific terms for these so we don't fall into the trap of "that's not what's meant by theme when real people use it." Any technical suggestions?

    Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Emily Care on August 10, 2004, 10:18:12 AM
Great, Mike.  But, are you sure you want to go with immersion rather than internal causality?  Sounds problematic. I think you were spot on with IC.

Marco's fidelity sounds like my take on verisimilitude--fidelity to a specific referent (a genre, text, etc).  This is similar to baseline--as in "realism" as an underlying assumption (which is basically just a form of this "fidelity" with the real world as the referent).

I'm not having any brainstorms about theme. Drama seems equally loaded. Same for narrative. Meaning would be too much, but that's often how I think of it. Diegesis would be accurate but way too didactic.

Quote
Meaning that they're likely to produce play that doesn't match the goal. In fact, this is an easy way to look at incoherence in design, is the design giving the power to control some element that's not a goal.

Think about that folks. Wow.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 10, 2004, 10:51:13 AM
IMO, new terminology is long overdue. The overlap between GDS and GNS caused significant confusion and difficulty. GENder, for all the good things that Scarlet Jester brought to the table, somewhat increases the confusion.

Theme adequately describes an actual purpose of play while neatly avoiding the D/N trap.

I suggest Immersion is best considered as a technique, not a goal for play. Immersion can be used to some extent in any other mode. Internal Causality works as a goal for play. It indicates a desire to make in-game actions and outcomes conform to the notion of "what should happen" given the known facts about the characters, their situation, and the game world rather than "what I want to happen" or "what makes the best story."  This is probably the most difficult and troublesome term to define and refine, because people have different notions about what constitutes internal causality and different thoughts about "what should happen."

Adding more axes? No thanks. The original set (cti-hl) offers a very elegant way of looking at the situation. Resist the urge to overdevelop it.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Ben Lehman on August 10, 2004, 11:34:31 AM
So, in the first major challenge to the model -- what about genre pastiche?

What I'm looking at here is something like Toon, Marvel Superheroes (chart edition), or vanilla Teenagers from Outer Space -- the basic point is not immersion, but creating something that is "just like" a particular genre, with the rules providing a strong emulative framework.  In the context of GNS, is this Sim.  In the context of GDS, I'm pretty sure it's D.  In the context of CTI/DC is this T or I?  It doesn't really seem like either, to me.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Sean on August 10, 2004, 11:45:46 AM
One more reason to prefer 'internal cause' to 'immersion', Ben.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Ben Lehman on August 10, 2004, 12:30:34 PM
Quote from: Sean
One more reason to prefer 'internal cause' to 'immersion', Ben.


See, I don't see "internal cause" as any more satisfactory here than "immersion."  Because, really, in the context of these sorts of games (well, MSH and TFOS, specifically), it is a matter of "external cause."  The genre emulation doesn't, by and large, come from the contents of the shared imaged space, but is imposed by the players and mechanics.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 10, 2004, 02:05:04 PM
I think that Internal Causality is OK.... In fact, I threw out Immersion just to make it more controversial. What I meant by it is that I think that Internal Causality is, as was said in another thread, not precisely the goal. That is, it, too is a technique. The goal is hard to state. It's that thing that we simmies call Immersion, but which doesn't quite fit the term. I'll work on that.

But Marvel Supers is a prime example of it. In fact, it's a prime example of "what if-ism" taken to an extreme, IMO, especially all of the who's who books.

TFOS is incoherent. Always has been. In fact one of my favorite examples. Because the goal is thematic, but the players are empowered to do simmy stuff. Gives me the shivvers just thinking about it.

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 10, 2004, 02:28:20 PM
Quote from: Ben Lehman
So, in the first major challenge to the model -- what about genre pastiche?

What I'm looking at here is something like Toon, Marvel Superheroes (chart edition), or vanilla Teenagers from Outer Space -- the basic point is not immersion, but creating something that is "just like" a particular genre, with the rules providing a strong emulative framework.  In the context of GNS, is this Sim.  In the context of GDS, I'm pretty sure it's D.  In the context of CTI/DC is this T or I?  It doesn't really seem like either, to me.

yrs--
--Ben


I'm not Mike--but I have some comments.

1. Toon (or RISUS in super-silly mode, or whatever) when played for laughts isn't exactly "Dramatist" (IMO)--I don't know that it's "what-if, participationist, or whatever anyway). I think most of my experience with Toon has been competition or step-on-up and that suits Cartoons pretty well (well, some).

2. TFoS is no more "genre based" than ... Call of Cthulhu (and before we decide that's pastiche, I submit that CoC is in almost no way like a Lovecraft story and is, really it's own thing). Moreover, whatever you think of CoC in *general* it could certainly be played with any agenda and have 'genre-adherence' as a secondary goal.

In fact, TFoS was always kinda gamist when I played it too. But I really think that humor does alter things more than a bit. Just like commedies have their own laws so to, I think does commedy gaming.

I'd guess CH for the TFoS play I've done--but I'm not familiar *enough* with it to have a strong opinion.

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 11, 2004, 05:29:12 AM
Toon I don't see as Step-On-Up. Again, if the challenge is to create theme, then that's narrativism. Comedy is theme. People seem to not want to accept this, seeing it as something different, but consider that comedy only comes from the juxtaposition of values. In some very deep seated, significant ways, comedy, laughter even, is about the ironies of the human condition. Even when the irony is something as simple as the gravity of our environment making moment to moment life precarious (AKA the pratfall).

That said, Toon is also somewhat incoherent, because much of the system does nothing to support this, instead intending to emulate some sort of cartoon physics. The reward system, yes, rewards comedy. But it then feeds back into the "sim" system. Nothing takes the joy out of playing Toon faster than actually employing the system, IME. TFOS is the same, but worse. Character generation provides potentially very funny characters, and the situations suggested are also potentially funny. So, when it's the players playing their funny characters in the funny situation, it's funny. But again, as soon as you engage the resolution system and mechanics in play, the funny just dies.

That is, the goal in both games seems to be Theme, but the players are given only mechanical power to create Immersion (still using that for lack of a better term).

The reasons you call these pastiche is because they are low player power. That is, the GM in these cases is the only person empowered to create theme via situation.

MSH is, again, a laboratory, plain and simple. Following on the tradition of the Marvel line called "What if?" What if Collossus fought The Thing? What if you had a character with these Marvel powers up against The Thing? What if you had a character with these Marvel powers, up against a character with these other Marvel powers?

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on August 13, 2004, 10:54:54 AM
I've only reached the bottom of the first page on this, but I feel like I'm a party pooper here--I don't see this as terribly helpful at all.

Here's my initial reaction.

The creation of theme, the overcoming of challenge, the satisfaction of curiosity--these are, I think, objectives sought through play. They define the "Creative Agenda" we recognize. There is a sense in which these things are what you want, what you do, why you do it, all wrapped into one. The one thing they are not is how you do it. How you do it generally is system; how you do it specifically is techniques.

Whether the players have high or low levels of "power" is a technique. As demonstrated even here, such high and low levels of "power" for the character players (and inverse for the referee player) can be used to pursue any agendum.

I think a lot of dust needs to settle here to see it clearly; but isn't high referee power combined with creation of theme definitive of front-loaded narrativism?

I really don't see power distribution as "what you want"; I see it as "how you get what you want".

I'm going to attempt to read the rest of the thread now.

--M. J. Young


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 13, 2004, 11:26:53 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young

I think a lot of dust needs to settle here to see it clearly; but isn't high referee power combined with creation of theme definitive of front-loaded narrativism?

I really don't see power distribution as "what you want"; I see it as "how you get what you want".

I'm going to attempt to read the rest of the thread now.

--M. J. Young


I'm not fully digested of the model yet--but I would say there is some difference between a ref who uses high power throughout the game and one who uses it only to set up situation but is reactionary after that (but I'm not sure that's modeled here).

But I will say this: being able to clearly *state* (or ask for) what you want is the first and most important step to getting it.

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 16, 2004, 08:36:42 AM
Quote
I really don't see power distribution as "what you want"; I see it as "how you get what you want".
Well, that's why there are two axes. One for how you get what you get, and the other for what you get.

These models, GDS, GENder, GNS, Ralph's Model, all exist to categorize play such that we can then do something with those categorizations. As such, the requirement is that people be able to make the categorizations, and that there's some use for the categorizations. The obvious use, but not the only one, is in preventing people from having a bad time playing because the other people are playing in a way that they don't like - incoherence, to use Ron's term.

Well, this model provides that. One can still talk about how a player might like the GM to be empowered, but prefers Immersion over theme and challenge. This will distinguish between a game like Theatrix in play, and another like Blue Planet, the former being theme based, and the latter being immersion based ( I can see the player calling Theatrix play too "fluffy" or something).

I think the model in general provides all of the positive benefits of the other models as well. In any case, if there's some benefit that you see it as failing to provide, let me know. In terms of the idea of the big model, I think it fits right in. I think that one can say that certain techniques produce a certain product.

I'm not saying that the model is not based on the ability to observe behavior, either; I don't mean to confuse by my use of the term "product". Players are still making decisions based on certain things. But from seeing who's making the "real" decisions, one sees who is empowered as well. There are still techniques being used to cause this to occur. It's only "product" as much as GNS was based on these things, given that "Step-On-Up", "The Dream," and "Story Now," were also what was "sought."

This model satisfies all comers by considering both concerns. Basically, the GDS simulationists can know that they won't accidentally be forced to play Theatrix, and the narrativists will still not be forced to play Theatrix, either (humor there, people). Put another way, the GNS model only really serves the narrativists, delineating their mode of play so that they can get rules that serve them as they like. What it doesn't do is serve the simulationists well, because there are actually two (maybe three) conflicting modes that could fall into what's ascribed to it.

In fact, think of it this way. Gamism is separated from Sim by pointing out immersion over challenge (note how player power is never considered in these cases). Gamism is separated from narrativism by pointing out challenge vs. theme (in these cases players are considered always to be empowered). But narrativism is separated from Sim by pointing out player empowerment (theme is irrelevant, really, because some sim games are said to be about the GM creating theme). So we can see the two axes in operation here partitioning off the spaces of play. But they're considered individually for GNS to separate the three modes.

So, if these two types of things are important for delineating different modes, then it seems to me that they're important in any combination. Hence, the way I see it, this model is merely uncovering differentiations that GNS was making all along, but which were glommed into other modes.

Here's a little Ven diagram that might help people see what I'm talking about. In fact, I've just noted that "open sim" seems to get glommed onto Nar, which balances out the spaces of play in terms of size.

Code:
-----T-----I------C-------
   _____________________
   |    NAR   |  GAM   |
D  | TD    ID |   CD   |
   |__________|        |
C  | TC    IC |   CC   |
   |   SIM    |        |
   |__________|________|


Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 16, 2004, 09:07:17 AM
Mike,

I think this is really, really good. I'm still thinking that there may be some subtle sub-divisions of "empowerment" (especially for the GM)--but, yes, I think this is a really useable theory in terms of discussion of different preferences.

I like it. More. I like the diagram too (this is essentially what I discussed to in the thread I just started--although you state it more clearly and, IMO, using more concrete language).

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 16, 2004, 09:44:43 AM
Mike,

I think your criticism of GNS is spot on. It has been primarily for narrativists - That is, Ron pushed its development in support of his mindset. In the same way, Threefold has sort of been for everyone but narrativists - my understanding is, the presence of David Berkman and his evangalism for an essentially narrativist style of play in the RGFA discussion polarized the discussion against what would later become narrativist ideology. It's a little weird because Ron didn't coin the term until later, but that's my understanding of the situation.

The problem with threefold and GNS, as I've said from time to time for quite a long time, is that all of gaming will not fit under just three labels. That was the genesis for my own Big List. If you haven't seen it, I think you will find that I included a few items near and dear to your heart (at least based on things I've read in recent discussions), but I digress. My point here is simple: Your model will work for more people because you have included more possibilities - At least 6 compared to the previous three. More, you've given both dramatism and narrativism good places to live. As a logical derivative of existing models, what you've got is good. I applaud it and will be interested to see the inevitable next evolution of your model.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Valamir on August 16, 2004, 10:20:28 AM
Some interestng thoughts here.

Before everyone rushes to embrace it however, there seems to be some simple tests.

According to the Venn Diagram above, the only difference between Sim and Nar is centralized vs. decentralized control.

Does that make sense?

If you take a GURPS and put all the control in the hands of the GM you get Sim?  And if you take GURPS and distribute the control to the players you get Nar?

Is that really the difference?

Surely if the players are to be able to address premise they have to have been empowered to do so, and that implies a greater degree of player input than is often traditionally given.  But it does not follow that simply granting a greater degree of player input leads to addressing premise.

Is this model throwing out the idea of Premise as a defining feature of narrativism?  'cause if not it seems to me there is more going on there then just centralized or decentralized control.


Clearly the idea of centralized and decentralized control is an important concideration.  Perhaps it is important enough to not simply be considered a matter of Technique (which I believe is where it resides in the Big Model).  Maybe it needs to be elevated to a position of greater prominence.  But are we really saying that that alone is the dividing line between Sim and Nar?  I'm not convinced of that at this point.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 16, 2004, 10:36:57 AM
Thanks for the support. Hunter, the thing is that more categories aren't neccessarily better. I'm the first to say that if two categories overlap with any regularity that they're probably better off described as something else. That is, not as categories, but as qualities of play.


In fact, I actually think that the "Immersion" goal is actually at right angles to the Gamism, Narrativism one. Meaning that I've got more of a four dimensional model, or three dimensional if you cross it with a flat space something like the ven diagram above. That is, as I've said in Beeg Horseshoe, I don't think that the immersion goal conflicts with the other two in the same way that they conflict with each other. Challenge and theme butt heads over the goal of conflict. Whereas Immersion butts heads with both over the subject of how much these things show, how much the game shows itself to be a game, and not an exposition of a virtual universe.

So that means that you'd have basically high and low immersion versions of each of the other modes - high and low being very "squishy" as parts of a spectrum. Hence -

CDL - Challenge Goal, Decentralized, Low Immersion
CDH - Challenge Goal, Decentralized, High Immersion
CCL - Challenge Goal, Centralized, Low Immersion
CCH - Challenge Goal, Centralized, High Immersion
TDL - Theme Goal, Decentralized, Low Immersion
TDH - Theme Goal, Decentralized, High Immersion
TCL- Theme Goal, Centralized, Low Immersion
TCH - Theme Goal, Centralized, High Immersion

The thing is that, given that I agree that there are mutually exclusive cases where you can either give up on your immersion to get your goal, or give up on the goal, this means that the High Immersion versions are sorta problematic. The way I see it, people play these, but when push comes to shove, they have to choose between one of the two, which reveals the "overall" CA (and back we go to the model above). Still, I think it's a useful way of looking at things for the purposes of categorizing player desires. Consider them a request for congruence.

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 16, 2004, 10:48:26 AM
Oops, cross posted with Ralph, so don't miss my post directly above.

Anyhow, Ralph, it's been my supposition for some time that it's almost impossible, if not actually impossible, to differentiate between "premise" and what you call a "what if" experiment. Put another way, can you give me an example of addressing conflict that is:

A) not gamism, which is pretty easy to identify, and

B) doesn't fall under Ron's definitions of premise, theme, etc.


See, people would ask Ron whether or not something was a premise. He would talk about morals, but that would fall apart. Ethics, the same. Eventually it gets down to "emotionally engaging." In other words premises are questions that the players find interesting to find the answers for. Now, here's the thing. It's not important who asks the question at all. "What if?" can come from the player, or the GM. The player provides the answer with what his character does. Yeah, it may be interesting in terms of what the GM does in response, but that's just thematic play on the GM's part. He's just a player, right?

This has always bugged me. Again, it always seems to come down, in all of Ron's examples, to whether or not the player was doing "story now." Which isn't story, we're told, but the fact of creation. The idea of the player getting to make the interesting decision.

It was only important to have the mysterious "thing that simulationists were after" (that thing that is not interesting as a challenge, or in some other way emotionally), to prevent Sim from being nar when the GM had all the power. In fact, we were told that theme was there all along. That it was just being provided by the GM! Well, he's a player, too, isn't he? If he's making theme, then he's answering his own questions, isn't he? How is this not premise?

Interestingly, the term premise has been problematic, IMO, very much because it means, "What if?"

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Hunter Logan on August 16, 2004, 12:45:42 PM
Simply adding categories does eventually reach a point of diminishing returns, but I think we agree that one can't just stuff everything into one of three bags and leave it there. We've seen the results of trying to do that, and your model works to address that.

Additionally, you've integrated Balance of Power, provided equal but respectful status for both dramatism and narrativism, and accepted Immersion as part of play. It's a good articulation of a lot of ideas that I like/agree with. That makes me an easy sale. Other people may take more convincing.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 16, 2004, 01:03:26 PM
On the subject of respect, I wish people would just accept that others have preferences that aren't theirs, and that their biases may show in the models they build. This does not make the models invalid. I've not known GNS to be "disrespectful" to any mode of play as a model (it's presented unjudgementally, IMO). The only thing that I feel my model may do is allow these people to differentiate their style of play more effectively. That is, I'm aiming for effectiveness of the model, not respect, particularly.

I say this because as soon as somebody finds that they can't put their mode easily into this model, I don't want them complaining that the model is disrespectful somehow. It may be incomplete, or even innacurate, but the idea is to portray different potential modes, not to say that one or another is better.

Check out the deconstruction on my Ven diagram, for instance. I put the D row above the C row, showing my personal bias for Decentralized play (when I noted this, I considered briefly presenting it the other way). I also put theme on the far left, so it's read first. Fortunately one can just flip the model over, and rearrange the columns, and it works just fine. Again, the model isn't intended to "respect" any mode more than another, and any reading of my personal biases shouldn't indicate otherwise.

I'll say it one more time for posterity, in case the model is widely adopted. When presenting the modes in a list or in a diagram, one must neccessarily place them in relation to each other, and one could read an assumption of superiority into some of the positioning. This is a fault of the model, and not intended. The model is descriptive, and does not intend to judge any mode in any way.

I know that was probably unneccessary, but consider it shell-shock.

BTW, and this may sound presumptious, but Ron's awfully busy with GenCon right now, so consider that he can't respond to any comments made here right now. That is, I don't want to get too far ahead at this point, as that's sorta taking advantage of his absence. That's not to say that we can't talk about it, but when comparing, consider the ramifications. I'm almost feeling guilty about the timing of the post as a whole (feels a bit like a coup d'etat).

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Tobias on August 17, 2004, 02:41:27 AM
After reading the whole thread, I'm sold on the idea that the model is a worthwile contribution - in that it does allow better examination of player/GM power, whether design matches intent, and even whether play sessions (and the power of the players there) match the intended play experience. (This investigation is highly relevant for my newly-started game as well - and since that game is also a playtest of my own game-in-design, it might help me separate game group issues from game design issues as well).

However, Valamir's concern regarding the (only) difference between Sim and Nar being centralized vs. decentralized control strongly echoes an intuitive feeling I have as well of something being missed, or oversimplified. I'm not at home with all terminology well enough to go into the details, but maybe it's not neccesary to expect a full overlap of the old and new model? It may be worthwile to examine the new model for its own merits. 'Percolation', as Ron has mentioned in another thread. Of course, Mike's already also postulated a version of Immersion-at-right-angles to Gamism and Narrativism, so maybe we'll evolve anyway. Or maybe we'll discover more in the line of the question 'how is what-if different from premise?'.

So, a thumbs-up, and a desire to investigate this Sim/Nar difference again, but an appeal for the fact that full reconciliation under the old models might not be neccesary. Mike's quote: "But narrativism is separated from Sim by pointing out player empowerment (theme is irrelevant, really, because some sim games are said to be about the GM creating theme)." does seem to miss something, for me.

Apologies if I'm (too) rambly.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 17, 2004, 07:16:21 AM
To be more precise, I'm trying to fit narrativism into this model. One of my points is that narrativism is a tad hard to grasp because of the fact that ID sometimes seems to be in it, and sometimes doesn't. If people can play nar "unconsciously" or "without meaning to" or whatever, it seems to me that a GM prioritizing immersion might still get this from his players. So, let's say that nar covers half of the ID box or something like that.

Doesn't really matter. The idea of the new model is to split ID out from TD (which is defintitely always in the Nar box) because though it has similarities, now we can focus on where the difference lays.

Note that this still has some problems. John Kim's "Water Uphil" game still is unidentifiable, because we're not sure if it has theme as a goal or not. But now we see what the question is, clearly - it's either TD or ID. Instead of trying to potentiall lump it in with things like TC, or IC, which were both definitely in the sim category before.

If you like 1.5 boxes were Nar, and 2.5 boxes were Sim. With the new boxes, I think that the associations are much clearer.

Again, this solves the "problem" of Dramatism, Illusionism, and Virtualism, by dividing them amongst TC, IC, and ID (note, this is not to say that TC is Dramatism, though ID as virtualism, and IC as Illusionism seems to work for me).

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Christopher Weeks on August 17, 2004, 08:45:43 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
  • ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design...
I don't understand the fundamental defining characteristic of sim play, and I'm stuck on the use of Immersion in this thread, but if Immersion means Internal Causality as your first post suggests, it seems like not much of a stretch to cite Universalis as an example.  (Or does it defy categorization?)

Chris


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 17, 2004, 11:53:14 AM
Quote from: Christopher Weeks
I don't understand the fundamental defining characteristic of sim play, and I'm stuck on the use of Immersion in this thread, but if Immersion means Internal Causality as your first post suggests, it seems like not much of a stretch to cite Universalis as an example.  (Or does it defy categorization?)
First, Universalis is completely Decentralized, certainly. But it doesn't have a lot of sim support at all. In fact, from one POV, none at all. The text repeatedly encourages players to think of traits not in terms of their in-game representativeness, but in terms of the impact on the story. Now, from an odd post-modern viewpoint, one might call this some sort of strange internal causality, but it's really meant to be deliberately external.

And it's terrible for Challenge. Given that the only non-"attendance" reward mechanic is for making conflicts, I think the game is vaguely Thematic. So it'd be TD. But very much a light thrust in that direction (definitely not "vanilla," however). Call it abashedly TD. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say that it's somewhat incoherent in terms of not providing a single strong CA at all. Certainly people have tried to play it with player challenge, which has been pretty disasterous, AFAICT.

Note that a game like GURPS is a pretty good example of a game with an "I" basis - all of the rules exist to delineate how things in the setting selected should work (and you can get as many rules as you like). What's not clear from it's design is whether or not the game is meant to be D or C. In fact, this is the "impossible thing" in effect. That is, the text doesn't make it clear whether or not the game plays better as a C game or a D game, leaving it to the individual group to select which way to play.

In fact, given how common games like this are, there's no surprise that there are no games that are clearly ID. I'm hoping someone has an exception. What it would say in the "How to GM" section would be something like:

As GM it's only your job to present the world as though it were an extant thing, not one changing to your or anybody else's whim. What it's not your job to do is to present any detail in such a way as it will force the players to make any particular direction. That is, certainly there will be moments when they PCs encounter things that they can only react to in one way. It's just that these should only happen as the result of your unbiased presentation of the world, again, as though it existed previously. This allows the players the greatest lattitude in creating the action of the game in that they decide where to go and what to do. It's up to you to present an interesting world, one with possibilities, but it's up to the players to create the action that occurs.

Anyone seen a game like that? Marco does JAGS have something like that in the appropriate section?

The opposite is rare, but exists. The classic example of a clear IC text is Arrowflight. CoC is ambivalent in the text, but if the published adventures are followed as a template for how to play, the game is very much IC (and it's not very clear what an ID game of CoC would look like). This is true of a lot of otherwise "Impossible Thing" games, I think.

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 17, 2004, 12:17:43 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

Anyone seen a game like that? Marco does JAGS have something like that in the appropriate section?

Mike


JAGS doesn't, IIRC, include any GM advice. If it did, while I identify fairly well with what you wrote, I would want to include sections on setting up situation so that it's rich and interesting on whatever levels the players require (which would include focuses on Drama and Challenge to suit the participant's taste).

We have a few articles on this in the forums (desiging interesting situations for maximizing Drama, Player-Centric gaming, etc.)

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: DevP on August 17, 2004, 12:45:44 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
In fact, given how common games like this are, there's no surprise that there are no games that are clearly ID. I'm hoping someone has an exception.
How close do we get with the Emgle Matrix games? The game typically plays with a specific situation or niche (i.e. wargames or murder mystery), but I feel that it tends towards ID: all adjucations is (1) player stating a potential new fact, and arguing for it (ideally based on the strength of previously established facts, (2) the GM deciding how well it is argued and assigns a probabilty of that happening on a d6, and (3) the fact either happens or not.

Step (2) does put a lot of control on the GM, but the text says pretty clearly that the GM "might not be objective, but should be fair". While the ability to rate how well facts are argued is a centralized power, its scope is merely to evaluate arguments within the framework of arbiting in-world causality, more or less. (Granted, some GMs would push this more towards IC, lowering the probabilities of player choices that are "bad for the story"). I think this isn't just "would be ID if", but is pretty close.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 17, 2004, 01:43:51 PM
Huh, fascinating.

That sounds about right. Sorcerer doesn't say that the GM provides no input, it says that he makes the game interesting by providing the characters with situations in which they are empowered to create theme. In this game, I think objective vs. fair speaks to that fairly clearly.

That said, I think that there's a small "impossible thing" danger here in that unless you show some way (like bangs for instance) of making things "interesting" without forcing events, that a GM might take the imperative to make things interesting to mean that he has to control the outcome.

Basically, if you really want decentralization, it seems that it's important to explain what that looks like. Because these sorts of explanations are so interperable otherwise. As always, examples.

Mike


Title: I think you're on to something
Post by: Lee Short on August 17, 2004, 02:43:00 PM
So much to comment on.  

I think Mike has done an admirable job of finding a weak point in the present GNS model, and pinpointing exactly where it is.  It seems that most of the criticism he is receiving is not about his diagnosis of the problem with the current model, but rather about his proposed solution.  

Quote from: Hunter Logan

I think your criticism of GNS is spot on. It has been primarily for narrativists - That is, Ron pushed its development in support of his mindset. In the same way, Threefold has sort of been for everyone but narrativists - my              understanding is, the presence of David Berkman and his evangalism for an essentially narrativist style of play in the RGFA discussion polarized the discussion against what would later become narrativist ideology. It's a little          weird because Ron didn't coin the term until later, but that's my understanding of the situation.


I think there are a number of misunderstandings about the Threefold that persist here.  As someone who participated in it all, I certainly have a somewhat biased opinion -- my opinions have been formed by my personal experiences, rather than the FAQ which is the Threefold's "Public Face."  But rereading the FAQ, my impression is simply reinforced.  Threefold Dramatism in fact included what is classified as Nar under GNS. I'm not sure where the idea sprung from that it wasn't included.  The reason that so much of GDS Dramatism was made over in the image of Berkman is because he was the most vocal proponent of any Dramatist style.  Other Dramatist styles were in fact discussed, including GNS Nar.  It's simply not the case that Dramatism is limited to Berkman's style of game.  

Actually, I think it was the gamists who got the short end of the threefold stick.  

Quote
The problem with threefold and GNS, as I've said from time to time for quite a long time, is that all of gaming will not fit under just three labels.  


This is true.  That's what determines the utility of the model: how much of the gaming universe you can fit into how few categories.  

Quote from: Valamir

According to the Venn Diagram above, the only difference between Sim and Nar is centralized vs. decentralized control.

Does that make sense?

[snip]

Is that really the difference?


I've got to agree with Valamir that this division certainly seems very odd to me.  If this really is the difference, then the categories' titles are, at best, misleading.  I certainly think that the TC category fits the descriptor 'Narrativism' much more than it fits the descriptor 'Simulationism'.  

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Anyhow, Ralph, it's been my supposition for some time that it's almost impossible, if not actually impossible, to differentiate between "premise" and what you call a "what if" experiment.


Mike, are you talking only about the difficulty of formally defining what differentiates your TC&TD play styles from your IC&ID play styles, or also about the difficulty of distinguishing them in practice?   In the latter case, you haven't actually avoided the issue by renaming 'premise' as 'theme.'
 
In any event, I think that it will make for a much cleaner model if TC&TD are lumped together and IC&ID are lumped together.  That way you can talk about the TCI orientation in a unified and coherent way, and you can talk about the CD orientation in a unified and coherent way.  I think this is what MJ was referring to when he said that the CD categories referrred to techniques and the TCI categories roughly corresponded to the current GNS.   I don't have a good name for the TCI categories -- 'Simulationism' might work for I, but it has a lot of baggage from having been lumped with GDS Dramatism for so long.  'Gamism' should be fine for C.  For the T category, I think both 'Dramatism' and 'Narrativism' have too much baggage to be desirable.  But there may be no better alternative.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Valamir on August 17, 2004, 02:49:00 PM
Quote
I've got to agree with Valamir that this division certainly seems very odd to me. If this really is the difference, then the categories' titles are, at best, misleading. I certainly think that the TC category fits the descriptor 'Narrativism' much more than it fits the descriptor 'Simulationism'.


That's because the current state of the GNS model, and Mikes view on the matter as well, lump Dramatism and Simulationism together as the same thing, while your background demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

A big part of my recent essay was trying to rip the Dramatism back out of Sim, but its become such an ingrained assumption here that high GM control of plot and theme = Sim (which is ridiculous) that I haven't met with complete success in that endeavor.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Lee Short on August 17, 2004, 02:52:35 PM
Quote from: Dev
The game typically plays with a specific situation or niche (i.e. wargames or murder mystery), but I feel that it tends towards ID: all adjucations is (1) player stating a potential new fact, and arguing for it (ideally based on the strength of previously established facts, (2) the GM deciding how well it is argued and assigns a probabilty of that happening on a d6, and (3) the fact either happens or not.


Depending on how this is used in practice, it's as likely to be C as I; the players will Step On Up by arguing convincingly for their requests.  I'm not sure that would even count as Drift.  
It could also easily drifted into a T mode.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Jack Aidley on August 18, 2004, 12:34:28 AM
Would troupe play Ars Magica be an example of ID?


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Christopher Weeks on August 18, 2004, 02:23:00 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

In fact, given how common games like this are, there's no surprise that there are no games that are clearly ID. I'm hoping someone has an exception. What it would say in the "How to GM" section would be something like:

As GM it's only your job to present the world as though it were an extant thing, not one changing to your or anybody else's whim. What it's not your job to do is to present any detail in such a way as it will force the players to make any particular direction....


So if it's just a matter of tracking the setting and enabling player-character action, it seems like a fantastic job for a computer.  Are CRPGs ID (ignoring for the moment whether we accept that they're RPGs, at all, if we can).

Chris (heading to GenCon...now.)


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Caldis on August 18, 2004, 03:38:19 AM
Quote from: Valamir

That's because the current state of the GNS model, and Mikes view on the matter as well, lump Dramatism and Simulationism together as the same thing, while your background demonstrates very clearly that they are not.


I dont think the model lumps the two together.  It accepts that while there are players like those who play a vitualist style there are also those who allow for some drama based decisions that still remain primarily simulationist.  As John Kims' threefold faq states...
Quote
Which one am I? Drama-, Game-, or Simulation-oriented?
         Most likely, none of the above. Your individual style cannot be pidgeonholed into a single word. More to the point, you probably use a mix of different techniques, and work towards more than one goal. You may tend more towards one corner of the triangle, but you probably value a mix.


GNS tries to classify all games on where they would fall on that triangle, which point it would be closest to.  GDS only considers games sim if it is entirely sim.  For example a game that is mostly a 'what if ' game but with the caveat that characters will not die in a meaningless manner would still be sim under GNS, however it wouldnt be an example of sim under GDS.

I think most of the disagreement that has been going around is just arugement over where the boundary lines should be drawn.


Quote
A big part of my recent essay was trying to rip the Dramatism back out of Sim, but its become such an ingrained assumption here that high GM control of plot and theme = Sim (which is ridiculous) that I haven't met with complete success in that endeavor.


But high GM control of plot can be valid in Sim.  The GM has control of the whole world so he can bring about any situation he wishes by twisting the dials, making forces beyond the pc's direct the plot for a bit.  Yet play itself can continue trying to answer the 'what if' of the current situation.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 18, 2004, 03:51:58 AM
Quote from: Caldis

But high GM control of plot can be valid in Sim.  The GM has control of the whole world so he can bring about any situation he wishes by twisting the dials, making forces beyond the pc's direct the plot for a bit.  Yet play itself can continue trying to answer the 'what if' of the current situation.


Under GNS Sim, yes (which, you know, is the problem)--but not under, say, Virtuality.*

Of course your words may not mean what I think they mean. Can events occurr over which the players have no control? Sure. Can those events impact players? Sure.

Is there an expectation of some sort of pre-determined 'plot'--or is the GM re-assessing the world in order to bring about some sort of desired change to the transcript of play (like, for example, the PC's getting captured?) No.

No more than you'd accept that in Narrativist play.

And Mike's model does a good job of splitting the difference where as GNS relies on Ralph's re-interpertation (which then leaves a hole for dramatism and functional illusionism that has yet to be filled).

-Marco
* Lee Short wrote an excellent post on Virtuality that I encourage you to check out if you think the GM prefering outcomes and manipulating things to ensure they happen is valid under Virtualist play.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: contracycle on August 18, 2004, 04:14:51 AM
Quote from: Dev
Quote from: Mike Holmes
In fact, given how common games like this are, there's no surprise that there are no games that are clearly ID. I'm hoping someone has an exception.
How close do we get with the Emgle Matrix games (http://www.20by20room.com/2004/07/the_matrix_game.html)?


I think the Matrix games are structured around their PvP nature, in that thge GM is not responsible for the construction of much situation.  But I agree this is an interesting case study, as IMO these games tend toward a RPG-like degree of character identification.

Another proposition for ID that matches Mike's GM instruction requirements perfectly to my mind is the logic of many CRPG's, especially those that claim to be player driven.  I think that in the venue of CRPG, the ID analysis of "what RPG is supposed to be" was fully almost realised.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Caldis on August 18, 2004, 04:20:16 AM
Quote from: Marco

Under GNS Sim, yes (which, you know, is the problem)--but not under, say, Virtuality.*


Virtuality fits within GNS sim.  It sits there alongside the plotted but primarily 'what if' games.  GNS is looking at a wider range of behavior than just virtuality, it's looking for any game that has more sim influence than either game or drama.  Virtuality is something specific, Sim in GNS is not, it is a range.


Quote
And Mike's model does a good job of splitting the difference where as GNS relies on Ralph's re-interpertation (which then leaves a hole for dramatism and functional illusionism that has yet to be filled).


Mike's model doesnt split the difference it just adds a finer level of distinction.  It's not redefining the boxes, it's simply putting up more smaller boxes to make a closer determination of what players want.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 18, 2004, 04:29:50 AM
Quote from: Caldis
Quote from: Marco

Under GNS Sim, yes (which, you know, is the problem)--but not under, say, Virtuality.*


Virtuality fits within GNS sim.  It sits there alongside the plotted but primarily 'what if' games.  GNS is looking at a wider range of behavior than just virtuality, it's looking for any game that has more sim influence than either game or drama.  Virtuality is something specific, Sim in GNS is not, it is a range.


Correct: but GDS put what we usually call Participationism in with Narrativism and I don't think you'd get too many people (here) to say that GDS is an equally functional division.

Mike's top-level schema avoids that problem, making it superior, IMO.

(Edited to remove note about implications of Caldis' argument--I doubt we'd agree on).

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Caldis on August 18, 2004, 04:58:13 AM
Quote from: Marco
Correct: but GDS put what we usually call Participationism in with Narrativism and I don't think you'd get too many people (here) to say that GDS is an equally functional division--although by your argument that's exactly what you're implying.

-Marco


Yes it is a functional division but along different lines than that used for GNS.

GDS is looking at it from the gm's standpoint on what he wants to create in the game. A virtual world, a challenging game, or a dramatic story.

GNS is looking at what are all players at the table trying and able to do.  Are they trying to create drama through their choices and if only one player (the gm) is able to do so then the game is not primarily about that.
If most of the players are limited to simulating what would happen in a virtual world, then that is what the game is primarily about.

In the interest of not derailing this thread I'd suggest we either take this to PM or if you have further comments you think would be interesting to the general populous maybe we should branch out to a new thread.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 18, 2004, 05:14:26 AM
Wow, lots to respond to. Unfortunately, I'm off to GenCon moments from now, so it'll all have to wait until I return. Thanks for the comments so far.

Mike


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Marco on August 18, 2004, 06:32:24 AM
Quote from: Caldis

GDS is looking at it from the gm's standpoint on what he wants to create in the game. A virtual world, a challenging game, or a dramatic story.

GNS is looking at what are all players at the table trying and able to do.  Are they trying to create drama through their choices and if only one player (the gm) is able to do so then the game is not primarily about that.
If most of the players are limited to simulating what would happen in a virtual world, then that is what the game is primarily about.



Mmm ... I thought about this and I don't agree it--GDS may explicitly only apply to GM's intentions (I've seen this asserted but I haven't read the Usenet posts).

However: GDS, regardless of who a given mode says it applies to, is used in discussing participant's goals and preferences in games (both in actual play and mechanics). If you tell me that being a GDS Gamist only applies to a GM's goal, okay, I don't have to argue with you.

Sure, maybe it does--but functionally I'll apply the theory as a player to ask the GM to describe his goals-of-play and see if I like them.

Functionally the GM may use the theory to analyze a game and pitch it to us to explain how it suits his goals.

What this means is that functionally GNS, GDS, and Mike's model all fill the same space: acting as a framework and vocabularity to discuss desires on the part of all participants.

Let's say a Narrativist GM (who doesn't know the GNS jargon) wants to communicate his style to players--under GDS, he says "I'm a Dramatist" and that leads to all sorts of misunderstandings.

Let's say a player wants Virtualist play. Under present-form GNS, the player says "I'd like to see Sim style play" and the GM says "okay, I'm enforcing theme."

Big problem.

There are areas where both of the models fail to communicate the aims of their users clearly.

Under GNS, if I set out to make a Sim game I could get Theatrix or GURPS and the theory tells me both of these share some philosophy. Conversations are either going to have to invent new words quickly (Virtuality and Participationist) or the conversation will be incredibly hard to follow.

That's why I think this is on target for this thread: does Mike's Model offer something that GNS presently doesn't?

I think the answer is clearly yes: it offers (as you say) sub-divisions that work organically to the theory without requiring new (and clearly contentious) language to be added to an already large glossary.

-Marco


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Lee Short on August 18, 2004, 06:55:56 AM
Quote from: Caldis
Quote from: Valamir

That's because the current state of the GNS model, and Mikes view on the matter as well, lump Dramatism and Simulationism together as the same thing, while your background demonstrates very clearly that they are not.


I dont think the model lumps the two together.   It accepts that while there are players like those who play a vitualist style there are also those who allow for some drama based decisions that still remain primarily simulationist.  


The latter form of play style is properly called Hybrid (sim-heavy hybrid, to be exact).  

It's a very poor definition that defines Sim as "either Sim or Sim plus other stuff".  That's like defining water as "H2O or H2O plus up to 5% impurities."   This is simply a poor definition, it's very bad for clarity and will lead to massive confusion.  Which  pretty much fits the current state of discussion on Sim.    

Quote
As John Kims' threefold faq states...
Quote
Which one am I? Drama-, Game-, or Simulation-oriented?
         Most likely, none of the above. Your individual style cannot be pidgeonholed into a single word. More to the point, you probably use a mix of different techniques, and work towards more than one goal. You may tend more towards one corner of the triangle, but you probably value a mix.


GNS tries to classify all games on where they would fall on that triangle, which point it would be closest to.  


This, of course, has the effect of lumping Dramatism in with Sim -- for all the reasons Mike discussed above.  See also Beeg Horseshoe.    

Quote

Quote
A big part of my recent essay was trying to rip the Dramatism back out of Sim, but its become such an ingrained assumption here that high GM control of plot and theme = Sim (which is ridiculous) that I haven't met with complete success in that endeavor.


But high GM control of plot can be valid in Sim.  The GM has control of the whole world so he can bring about any situation he wishes by twisting the dials, making forces beyond the pc's direct the plot for a bit.  Yet play itself can continue trying to answer the 'what if' of the current situation.


This just brings to the forefront the internal contradiction in the current definition of Sim, and why it is bad to have hybrid styles included in the definition of Sim.  Because high GM control of plot and "Internal Cause is King" are, quite simply, two different things.  They should be treated as such.  And lumping them together only confuses what the actual issues are, and leads to confusing conversations.  Which is exactly what we've seen time and again about exactly this issue.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mark Woodhouse on August 18, 2004, 12:46:58 PM
Quote from: Lee Short

...high GM control of plot and "Internal Cause is King" are, quite simply, two different things.  They should be treated as such.  And lumping them together only confuses what the actual issues are, and leads to confusing conversations.  Which is exactly what we've seen time and again about exactly this issue.


It seems to me "Internal Cause Is King" (ICIK) is not the sole diagnostic of Sim. High GM control of plot can exist serially with pure internal causality - the GM frames aggressively, but players have complete freedom within the designated area. From a Virtualist perspective, this is highly "crippled" Sim play, but some play groups may have essentially Participationist social contract agreements that designate "some stuff we play out, and some stuff gets narrated." For the stuff that gets played out, ICIK applies, but cut scenes and heavy abstraction are applied to everything that isn't "important."

Obviously this has all the usual pitfalls of Participationist play, but provided the social contract is sufficiently robust it is probably functional for Sim play. The conflict between this technique and Sim comes when a player feels that they are not allowed to play something out in Sim mode that is a significant decision point without an intuitively clear result. Provided players are strongly in agreement about (or have out-of-band dialogue about) what things need in-game attention, everything works.

Mark


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Lee Short on August 18, 2004, 02:35:59 PM
Quote from: Mark Woodhouse
Quote from: Lee Short

...high GM control of plot and "Internal Cause is King" are, quite simply, two different things.  They should be treated as such.  And lumping them together only confuses what the actual issues are, and leads to confusing conversations.  Which is exactly what we've seen time and again about exactly this issue.


It seems to me "Internal Cause Is King" (ICIK) is not the sole diagnostic of Sim. High GM control of plot can exist serially with pure internal causality - the GM frames aggressively, but players have complete freedom within the designated area.


Well, high GM control of plot can actually be based *completely* on pure internal causality.  The GM applies purely internal causality to the present situation to arrive at the next frame.  But he does this during down time, and presents the results fait accompli to the players.  

There's a sim-important distinction here between this version of framing, and what I think you meant above.  Using the current definition of Sim obscures this difference.  Why is that a good thing?  

Players who are happy under a sim-heavy hybrid CA will be happy with your version of framing; players who demand a pure sim CA will only be happy with mine.  Why shouldn't the language of GNS give them the ability to make this distinction and discuss their differences?  

----------------

The problem here is that once we start expanding the definition of Sim to include "just a little bit of X" or "just a little bit of Y", then suddenly we find that Sim includes X and Y (and Z and . . .).  Once we reach this stage, it's impossible to talk about Sim in any kind of useful manner.


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: Mark Johnson on August 18, 2004, 05:17:54 PM
This is what happens when you leave for a month.... wow, I have a lot of reading to do.

Can this new model fit pretty cleanly in the Creative Agenda area of the Big Model without having to make many adjustments or does it require a major rethink of the implications and definitions of everything from social contract to techniques?

I don't think it does.

The problem I have with the 3D model so far is that I think that in many games the player control element probably lies at a medium level between high player control and low player control.  It seems to me that "high player" control and "low player" control are more of a means to an end rather than an end in itself.  In other words, it strikes me more as a technique than a creative agenda.  

It may be that Ron's biggest contribution with GNS is not GNS itself, but the Big Model.  We are probably just seeing the first flowering of many different Creative Agenda models that can be dropped into the Big Model without much adjustment to the theory as a whole.   At some point, there may be as many Creative Agenda models as there are Personality typology systems in psychology (most of which offer 8 to 50 or more "personality types" depending on the model, RPGers have been lucky in the past that we usually only have three or four game types mentioned in previous models).

If Mike renames the terms so that "high player control" = "chaotic" and "low player control" = "lawful", I just might have to get on this bandwagon.  I could go around and say "I am a Chaotic Challenger!"  (Just kidding.)

Later,
Mark


Title: New 3D Model
Post by: M. J. Young on August 19, 2004, 06:47:54 PM
I'm not persuaded that the categories you propose really align with the existing categories the way you suggest. As Ralph says, control is not the difference between narrativism and simulationism; it's only symptomatic of the difference historically.

But arguendo, I'm not sure this is especially useful even if it's correct.

There's an ice cream shop on the corner. If I go down there, I can order a sundae; but they won't make it until I answer some questions. What kind of ice cream do I want? What toppings do I want? So perhaps I want a hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream.

Now, they could give that a name, a different name from a hot fudge sundae with chocolate ice cream, and different from a hot fudge sundae with coffee ice cream, and so on, as well as different again from a sundae with strawberry topping or a sundae with pineapple topping. They don't.

The reason they don't is that such names would be too confusing ultimately. I would have to know the individual name of each variant type. This seems to me to be more problematic than merely expressing the factors individually that apply.

I note in the diagram that decentralized immersive play is, by your reckoning, inherently narrativist. That dog won't hunt, as they say. Narrativist play is always thematic. I don't even consider it a viable issue as to whether immersive decentralized play that is not thematic is narrativist. It's a much more likely question whether thematic centralized play might be narrativist; although I'm inclined to think not, it's a more difficult issue (given that the referee is one of the players).
Quote from: Mike
What it would say in the "How to GM" section would be something like:

As GM it's only your job to present the world as though it were an extant thing, not one changing to your or anybody else's whim. What it's not your job to do is to present any detail in such a way as it will force the players to make any particular direction. That is, certainly there will be moments when they PCs encounter things that they can only react to in one way. It's just that these should only happen as the result of your unbiased presentation of the world, again, as though it existed previously. This allows the players the greatest lattitude in creating the action of the game in that they decide where to go and what to do. It's up to you to present an interesting world, one with possibilities, but it's up to the players to create the action that occurs.

This reminds me of Bard's Tale, the computer game of decades back in which you could go wherever you wanted and do whatever you chose. I'd have said it was simulationist.

I just realized that I missed a page in reading over the posts, so I've probably repeated some things that were said; I'll just make one more comment, mostly for Lee.

As I understand it, Ron introduced GNS (in about 1998, in System Does Matter then at Gaming Outpost) specifically as his understanding of the distinctions created in Threefold. He changed the name of "Dramatism" to "Narrativism" (because of Tweet's prior use of "Drama" as a resolution method, which might be confusing). GDS seemed to be about what players were doing when they played; GNS in some sense suggested that what they were doing implied something about why they were doing it--that is, there was something they wanted to get from the game that was different from what someone else wanted to get from the game that caused the difference in how they played.

Someone (I do not know who) who was involved in the RGFA discussions objected that Ron's recharacterizations were completely foreign to the original concepts, and particularly that narrativism as he defined it had nothing to do with dramatism as it was defined there.

I would say (and I think that Ron would agree) that this was true because GDS and GNS were defining different things--the one probably best described as "a way of playing" and the other closer to "an object of play". However, efforts to integrate the two approaches led to the mistake that GDS categories were wholly contained within GNS categories. Since GDS categories are to some degree combinations of techniques, it's natural to expect that they would cross GNS lines, where techniques are not unique to individual agenda. The beliefs that Dramatism and 3F Simulationism are both wholly contained within GNS Simulationism comes from this mistake.

I don't know if that clarifies things any, but I hope it's helpful.

--M. J. Young