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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Larry L. on August 01, 2005, 08:18:27 AM



Title: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 01, 2005, 08:18:27 AM
Okay, so I think this is an "Ask Ron" thread.

Ron,

Regarding Infamous Five #4 (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=9782.0), what's the current state of things Vanilla and Pervy? A quick seach reveals not much discussion on this in the last couple years. Did this issue basically just get hammered out to everyone's satisfaction to the definitions in the Provisional Glossary? Are "vanilla" and "pervy" still frowned upon in favor of "points of contact?" Are people still consciously designing in consideration of Points of Contact, or did this turn out to be a relatively unimportant design issue?

I'm not conscious of which designs have intentionally gone for vanillaness or perviness.

Also, was rules-light vs rules-heavy dismissed as a fruitless argument, or just as totally irrelevant to this particular piece of theory?

Am I asking totally stupid questions here?


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 01, 2005, 09:36:36 AM
I'll shoulder on Ron's turf, because points of contact are very much in the foreground, at least for me. My understanding and de facto practice has been to discard "vanilla" and "pervy" as general terms in favor of points of contact. The latter is a more powerful and exact visualization, because you need not just talk about how much, but can also consider the where and why. In practical design it's usually not the case that vanilla or pervy is better, but that you have to consider the points of contact you choose very carefully. I might still use the terms, but only to describe something in a general way, not as an analytic conclusion.

Nowadays, visualizing the actual play experience is a central design tool for me. And the idea of there being the "soft" stuff, which now and then is in contact with the "hard" stuff is a very basic starting point for that. What's more, when you grasp the idea of points of contact, you can analyze other things than SIS vs. system as well; things like how narration rights are shifted, or literary sources are referenced, or moments of immersion arranged. It's all about internally coherent activities with their own momentum and how players switch between them. Points of contact are the transmission system of a rpg design.

A general point: we don't really talk much here about our design practices and the processes. That's one thing that could get more attention if only because it's so interesting. In this case, for example, I have no idea if points of contact are at all relevant for the design process when other people here start to design. We might talk about how this or that game has these points of contact (although we review and analyze actual games too little, too), but I don't remember anybody writing about how the concept impacts his design.

That being said, I personally think that Trollbabe is very interesting as a points-of-contact excercise. I don't remember knowing if it's intentional, though. MLwM and Heroquest are pretty much from the different ends of the spectrum, if you want that kind of examples. They aren't intentional, though.

Rules-light vs. rules-heavy I don't want to touch on, I've lost the little understanding I had on that topic. You could say that it matters for points of contact insofar as handling time matters. That is, it's irrelevant for the points of contact per se, but certainly will affect the overall experience in adjunction with them. That's as far as I understand that topic.


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 01, 2005, 10:30:45 AM
Hiya,

Eero wrote,
Quote
My understanding and de facto practice has been to discard "vanilla" and "pervy" as general terms in favor of points of contact.

... which pretty much sums up my take on the matter. Including the bit about how the terms might crop up informally with the understanding that personal interpretations vary.

I've never placed any credence on the "rules-light"/"rules-heavy" distinction and consider it an example of verbiage pretending to be ideas, useless for any meaningful discussion.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 01, 2005, 11:53:07 AM
(Re-reads Eero's first paragraph very slowly.)

Ah. So "points of contact" is a more useful term, not because of the aesthetic objections to the whole pervy/kinky metaphor, but because the concept is not adequately described by just "high" or "low."

Cool, that makes sense.

Thanks,


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 01, 2005, 12:09:05 PM
Ah. So "points of contact" is a more useful term, not because of the aesthetic objections to the whole pervy/kinky metaphor, but because the concept is not adequately described by just "high" or "low."

Exactly. When you say "vanilla", what you're really saying is "uniformly low points of contact", when you say "pervy", you say "uniformly high points of contact". It's a global attribute over a whole design, a mathematician would say, while speaking about single points of contact is a whole another thing. And while it's interesting how the relative vanillaness/perviness of a design might or might not have some effect on the game experience, for design purposes it's not useful. It's also very complex. I for one would certainly be interested in some strong analysis about what, exactly, we can deduce from the global variable, but to this point the best thinking on the subject says really nothing at all. We don't know that any humanly significant property of the rpg experience is uniformly caused by the global frequency of points of contact, so talking about it is almost as bad as talking about rules-light and rules-heavy. I can sometimes say that there's too many or wrong kinds of points of contact in the combat system or something, but that's as global as it gets. No chance to say that this game is pervy or vanilla and deduce anything useful at all about how it actually plays out.

A simple mathematic branch that illustrates the idea of global and local properties well is graph theory. We have properties like the order of vertices (the number of connections it has), which we study as a global phenomenon (maximal number over the graph, minimal of the same, the average) and a local phenomenon (the order of this particular vertix); and it's quite interesting to try to find how the global property actually limits the possible local graph properties. Sometimes it's just the complementing local variable that's affected, but sometimes also some completely different secondary structural rules are enforced by the simple expedient of naming some global constraint.



Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: drnuncheon on August 01, 2005, 01:06:18 PM
I think Points of Contact is probably the bit of Forge jargon that I am having the most trouble understanding.  I've read the linked threads and the glossary but something about exactly what it is trying to express eludes me. I'mn hoping someone can express it in plain English for me, because I'm still trying to grok the rather specialized terminology in use here.

Is it as simple as "when do we resort to the game rules to settle something?" and I'm making a big deal over nothing, or os there some kind of deeper nuance that I need to understand to really get what's going on?

Jeff


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Simon Marks on August 02, 2005, 12:47:56 AM
IIs it as simple as "when do we resort to the game rules to settle something?" and I'm making a big deal over nothing, or os there some kind of deeper nuance that I need to understand to really get what's going on?

Quote from: Ron Edwards in the Glossary
The steps of rules-consultation, either in the text or internally, per unit of established imaginary content.

So, yes, I think.
How many times do I have to refer to the rules to do something.


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 02, 2005, 04:31:12 AM
Hiya,

I want to make a fairly subtle point clear, though. And I'm not sure whether I can articulate it correctly the first time, so bear in mind we may have to triangulate through dialogue.

This is not quite how I've looked at it in the past and should not be taken as plain-and-simple Ron Says. These are some of the issues that need to be considered to refine the concept a little.

Points of Contact concerns using specific applications (techniques) of the system. It does not actually concern looking up the rules, although the latter is clearly related to it. In other words, looking up the rules in order to follow or critique them is a form of Points of Contact, but a fairly obvious and crude form, and Points of Contact is a broader concept, including more things.

A group who never looks up the rules because they know them (and their modifications) so well is still utilizing all the Points of Contact for the system. This is one of the reasons why "rules-light" is a useless term, because this group will consider their system to be light (i.e. painless) despite its many procedural contortions.

I also want to remind people that rules are textual and system is procedural. Rules are what the books say or what we've formally agreed upon about those books. System is what's actually done during play. Points of Contact is ultimately about system.

So the key issue about Points of Contact is whether they change in nature, whether they force a "stop" in the process of play, whether they are familiar, and so on. A system with high Points of Contact requires more cognitive shifts of attention regarding "how we do this," as you go along. It is often associated with sudden changes in scale in the SIS that are supposed to be equally and consistently formalized, such as considering who's standing where, and then considering whether someone's finger slips on the trigger. A system with low Points of Contact is clearer about when we do or do not employ specific features of the system, and those features tend to be very much alike throughout play - so we might not know what is going to be resolved, but when we get there, we are fully prepped to resolve it the same as we did before.

As I often say, so-called freeform play is actually incredibly high in Points of Contact for this very reason, as every contribution to the SIS is being vetted not only for how it works for everyone else, but also readjusted in whether it's OK for that person to contribute at that time. It's extremely prone to subtle Calvinballing, enforced through approval and disapproval rather than through shouting out rules.

I do not want to imply or get into a High-Bad, Low-Good way of looking at this. In some games, for instance, a totally different subsystem for (say) magic stuff works very well, and that Contacts-based shift is a fruitful part of play. Or in another, the same might be said for combat and movement among spacecraft as opposed to among people.

H'm! Looking over this, I'm pretty comfortable with it, less tentative than when I first started writing. Larry, how's it working for you?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 02, 2005, 05:23:05 AM
Ron,

I'm understanding Points of Contact in terms of layers of abstraction that don't quite sync up with the Big Model. Points of contact being anyplace a player has to grab a chunk of System to interact with the SIS. In an information science idiom, a point of contact is like a handle a program has to grab before it can pass some data to another device. That sound about right with you?

I understand that it doesn't directly correlate to handling time, since a group of players may have the system down pat and not need to touch the book. Although it seems to suggest a greater learning curve to novice players.

Quote
It is often associated with sudden changes in scale in the SIS that are supposed to be equally and consistently formalized, such as considering who's standing where, and then considering whether someone's finger slips on the trigger. A system with low Points of Contact is clearer about when we do or do not employ specific features of the system, and those features tend to be very much alike throughout play - so we might not know what is going to be resolved, but when we get there, we are fully prepped to resolve it the same as we did before.

This bit is a little odd to me. "...low Points of Contact is clearer..."? Whip out some examples for me. My Life with Master is low Points of Contact, right?

Quote
I do not want to imply or get into a High-Bad, Low-Good way of looking at this. In some games, for instance, a totally different subsystem for (say) magic stuff works very well, and that Contacts-based shift is a fruitful part of play. Or in another, the same might be said for combat and movement among spacecraft as opposed to among people.

This subsystem business seems to be opening a whole new can of worms. So parts of System can be higher contact than the rest of the System as a whole without being a thoughtless drift into Simulationism? That sort of thing is where I seem to associate high points of contact cropping up.


As a side note, I'm a little sad that "vanilla" and "pervy" are not the terms du jour. It took me forever to figure out how the hell pervy could be an antonym for vanilla. When I did figure it out, I was terribly amused by what a cute piece of gamer de-programming Edwards had come up with. Oh well.



Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: drnuncheon on August 02, 2005, 05:54:53 AM
Ron,

As I understand the use of the word system here, it's the procedure by which events are resolved during play.  As such it is not the written rules themselves but how they are used by the group - and that includes techniques like GM fiat (even on small levels like "I'm not going to bother rolling a survival check for that orc you took to -5 hp").

But if we're talking about system in that sense, aren't we contacting it at every moment we play, regardless of what it is?  When a group is playing D&D, and the DM says "Behind the door you see an orc guarding a pie", that may or may not be rules, but it is system (since part of the system is that the DM is the creator and arbiter of the world and the player's situation, as opposed to that being a shared responsibility as it might be in other games).

From what you say above, though, it sounds like you are suggesting that a system like D&D 3e, which has a fairly unified roll-under system for resolving most situations, and then has a much more detailed (and different) systems for combat and magic, is a system with high Points of Contact, whereas Wushu, which uses the same mechanic for literally everything, would be a system with low PoC.

Assuming that I've got that right: is it the level of detail of the D&D system that causes it to be high Points of Contact?  Or is it the change in the mechanics that causes it to be so? And if it's the latter, are they more like Points of Change rather than Points of Contact?

Jeff


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Jason Lee on August 02, 2005, 06:29:33 AM
My explanation can be found in My Unified Theory of Exploration (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?t=9866).  The last four posts contain an edit about unstructured drama resolution.  There are further details in the parent thread, but those initial zilchplay threads were very heavy.

My definition of Points of Contact hasn't changed with time (at least not that I've noticed). I defer to Ron as to whether or not that still agrees with the big model.


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 02, 2005, 07:29:13 AM
Hello,

Larry, you wrote,

Quote
As a side note, I'm a little sad that "vanilla" and "pervy" are not the terms du jour. It took me forever to figure out how the hell pervy could be an antonym for vanilla. When I did figure it out, I was terribly amused by what a cute piece of gamer de-programming Edwards had come up with. Oh well.

Hey, you and me both. The terms encountered quite a bit of resistance based on equal amounts of prudery and people's sense of ownership over their own kinky sex habits. That's a hard pair of kneejerks to argue against successfully. I'm just glad you got it, and we can agree to use the terms when no one else is listening.

Although I eventually did cave because I realized that people tended to associate Vanilla with what they were used to, or basically, "traditional basic role-playing" in the hobby sense. I had to decide whether that was what I was talking about or not, and when I decided it wasn't, then the terms proved inadequate to make sure people understood that.

Jeff, you wrote,

Quote
... it sounds like you are suggesting that a system like D&D 3e, which has a fairly unified roll-under system for resolving most situations, and then has a much more detailed (and different) systems for combat and magic, is a system with high Points of Contact, whereas Wushu, which uses the same mechanic for literally everything, would be a system with low PoC.

Right.

Quote
Assuming that I've got that right: is it the level of detail of the D&D system that causes it to be high Points of Contact? Or is it the change in the mechanics that causes it to be so? And if it's the latter, are they more like Points of Change rather than Points of Contact?

"Level of detail" is unfortunately a difficult term; it's not entirely clear whether a person is saying a rules-set is detailed because it's promoting high Points of Contact, or vice versa. For instance, let's say we were playing AD&D2 and knew the rulebook really well - and our System was close to that but with some mods of our own. So far so good? Well, how often do we "refer to System" in order to "play right"? Whether we're consulting and confirming our shared understanding in purely verbal terms, or looking at our three-ring binder of rules mods, or looking at the book itself, the point is that we have to do something mentally just to be sure.

I'd like to separate this phenomenon from the usual hitch-and-start of simply learning a rules-set in the first place. I'm afraid a lot of people are thinking of a game as having high Points of Contact simply because it's hard to learn. The reverse might be true, but it's not necessarily so.

You can call it "Points of Change" if you'd like, but maybe we can still call it "Points of Contact" and specify that we are contacting it such a way that we have to change what we're doing, a little.

Jason, I agree with you in pretty much every way. That's a good thread to reference for this one.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: drnuncheon on August 02, 2005, 09:40:16 AM
"Level of detail" is unfortunately a difficult term; it's not entirely clear whether a person is saying a rules-set is detailed because it's promoting high Points of Contact, or vice versa.

To clarify, I wasn't actually trying to draw a direct 1:1 comparison between level of detail and Points of Contact, although it's certainly likely that one affects the other.  When I talk about different areas of the D&D system having different levels of detail, I'm more referring to the fact that an attempt to resolve a conflict verbally through social skills is done with a single die roll (or opposing die rolls), while an attempt to resolve a conflict through violence is done with many repeated instances of a task resolution system.  When you go from words to blades in D&D, you 'zoom in' and use, for lack of a better term, a more finely detailed resolution system. 

As a contrast to that, consider Dying Earth, which has a fairly detailed resolution mechanic that works on the same scale or level of detail for both social and violent action - and contrast further with Wushu, which has a mechanic that isn't very detailed at all for all actions.

That's the difference I thought you were referring to when you talked about "cognitive shifts of attention" and "sudden changes in scale" in your previous post - am I way off base here?  Anyway, I think they're something different from (although related to) your Points of Contact.  One could have a system that handled all actions at a similar level of very fine detail, and I think it'd have a high Points of Contact but few or no Points of Change.

Whether Points of Change are worthwhile or not...well, I think they can tell you something about the system since anywhere you 'zoom in' ought to represent an intentional focus of the system.  But that's probably another thread if it hasn't been dealt with already.

Quote
For instance, let's say we were playing AD&D2 and knew the rulebook really well - and our System was close to that but with some mods of our own. So far so good? Well, how often do we "refer to System" in order to "play right"? Whether we're consulting and confirming our shared understanding in purely verbal terms, or looking at our three-ring binder of rules mods, or looking at the book itself, the point is that we have to do something mentally just to be sure.

Even if that thing is mentally "Is it the DM that's telling us there's an orc behind the door? OK, there must be an orc because the GM is allowed to do that."  By my understanding, that's part of the system, even if it isn't normally consciously thought about - but if we call that a 'Point of Contact' then the term gets pretty diluted. 

Or is the setting of the DM in such a system a single point of contact, because from then on we don't have to check every time they use their authority - everybody already knows he can do it because he's the DM?

All of this, of course, is still going to make sure I understand what Points of Contact are, since every time I think I have it they seem to wriggle away.

Jeff


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Adam Dray on August 02, 2005, 10:14:45 AM
Ron,

Does a game written clearly have fewer Points of Contact than the exact same game (in terms of System) written poorly? 

That is, do you consider the conveyance of the System to be System in itself?
Is the System an ideal that the text references, but never expresses perfectly?


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: M. J. Young on August 04, 2005, 12:02:54 PM
I'm going to take the risk that I'm all wet here, because honestly points of contact has always been a bit unclear to me in application as well.

All systems rely to some degree on authorities. These include rules, character papers, die rolls, setting descriptions, attributes, skill ratings, target numbers, skill descriptions, resources--all technically external to the shared imagined space.

A point of contact, if I understand it aright, is a moment in play in which an authority is referenced, internally or externally. Thus if we think, John's character's strength is 27, and that's pretty high, so we'll decide he can do this, we probably have a point of contact, whereas if we think John's character is strong enough to do this, without reference to the authority of what his strength score actually is but rather because it is our impression of the John's character, we probably do not have a point of contact.

Again, I may be all wrong on this, and if I am I hope someone will tell me why.

--M. J. Young


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 05, 2005, 07:56:41 AM
Hmm. So over the course of this thread I've gone from uncertain to confident to a little muddy.

So I'm wrapping my head around Jason's theory...
Points of contact are simply how often this process is regulated by mechanics.  Most of the time the process cycles through in a moment.  For example, "Bob picks up his cup of coffee."  This still had to pass through Conception -> Proposal -> Validation -> Integration, but because the Validation mechanism was simply the unstated phrase "No argument here, go ahead." instead of a mechanical element, we can say that event had low points of contact.  This applies to phases other than Validation (The Integration of Bob picking up his coffee is also not mechanically regulated) - Validation is just the easiest to example.

...

The points of contact help maintain the Fidelity threshold by continually Validating statements before Integration.  Points of contact also help maintain 'variable control' in the same fashion.
...and this seems to dovetail nicely with what M. J. is saying about authorities (above.) I'm pretty satisfied with definition of "what it is."

So now I've got a lot of "why" questions popping up. If we say that it's not as simple as "vanilla good, pervy bad" then it's going to be useful to at least understand what the pros and cons of utilizing a given approach to Points of Contacts.

I can't put forth good supporting evidence yet, but I have a hunch that this is about the social dynamics by which consensus is reached. With fewer points of contacts, play relies on everyday human social mechanisms for agreement -- trust, empathy, intuition, common sense. If these things cannot be relied upon, points of contact can be added to broker procedural extensions to the social contract. Which points of contact are desirable depends on participants' threshold of comfort with the other participants' judgements.

Good reasons for adding (and I'm starting to think of PoC as an additive property) points of contact are to broker situations that are sufficiently removed from participants' common experience that outcomes become "piss in my Wheaties" unacceptable. This includes the "I Shot You! You're Dead!" argument that many texts make to justify the rules, as well as the "build a better mousetrap" obsession many games have with medieval combat simulation. No one (hopefully) has first-hand experience at slaying other human beings, so everyone brings different expectations of "what should happen" to the table. (Hmm, where can I get some felons to test this theory?)

This would also explain why having lots of points of contact is seen as a godsend by socially awkward adolescents. Being able to creatively participate in a social group is an enormously empowering to those who haven't yet developed the above-mentioned human social mechanisms. By the same token, non-gamer adults scratch their heads at this play style and wonder how there can be so little "real" social interaction going on, not understanding the vast number of points of contact (many of which never appear in a rulebook) that most gamers have already internalized.

Again, I'm just going out on a limb here.

Does this seem insightful to anyone? Because it seems like I just used a lot of words to say something obvious. Or am I going off on a tangent that's not really about points of contact at all?


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Callan S. on August 05, 2005, 03:13:47 PM
Hi Ron,

Quick stupid question here: The example of shifts between something like where someones standing, to whether their finger slips off the trigger. The shift in System use, it makes me think of something like putting away one procedure manual then pulling out another and opening up that one. Kind of like if I'm playing a computer game and then my partner asks what we need to get when we go shopping, I have to mentally withdraw from the game 'folder' to the shopping 'folder'.

Is that close to what the term 'points of contact' means?


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Silmenume on August 12, 2005, 11:44:20 PM
I don't know if this helps, but back in June of last year I offered the following in this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=11709.0)

I think, that POC like CA is something that is expressed during play, not something inherent or created by something the publisher did.  Like M.J. pointed out earlier, everything that goes into play must run through system.  So the question becomes what then is special about a moment in the game that is called a Point of Contact.  My feeling is that a Point of Contact is any moment in play where the negotiation of credibility becomes overt.

If there is lots of contest/negotiation over credibility then the game is high points of contact.  If there is very little contest/negotiation over credibility then the game is low points of contact.  We only become aware of the negotiation process when the ratification process is anything but silent consent.  I would thus say focus on overt negotiation of credibility is where you'll find your points of contact.

I hope this helps some in way.


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 13, 2005, 09:44:02 AM
Jay,

I can dig that. So points of contact include anytime someone:
  • Says, "Roll for that."
  • Cites a rule.
  • Says, "No, I think it should be..."

I'm trying to identify more of these "ephemera level" events.


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: daHob on August 18, 2005, 09:06:07 AM
My read on this is that a Point of Contact is whenever the focus of play shifts from inside the SIS to outside it.

That is, any time you pause in adding to the SIS to decide if you can/should/will be allowed to make the change you want based on System.

Examples for us to disagree about:
There is an orc. I want his treasure. I announce, "Bob sneaks up behind the orc, kills him and takes his treasure."
No PoC, I was just narrating based on what I wanted to do.

There is an orc. Bob is established a sneaky guy who has killed many orcs who likes treasure. Bob should easily be able to kill the orc and take his treasure. I announce, "Bob sneaks up behind the orc, kills him and takes his treasure."
No PoC. There were considerations as to what I could do, but they were based entierly on things that exist in the SIS. I was in the 'game world' playing my game.

There is an orc. Bob is a 20th level Assasin and orcs are 1 hit die monsters. There is no point in rolling this since I completely outclass it. I announce, "Bob sneaks up behind the orc, kills him and takes his treasure."
PoC. The rules were referenced to see if the action would be accepted.

There is an orc. I want to kill the orc, but Jake is playing an orc and he is trying to establish tht orcs are really tough fighters. If I just run up an kill him, Jake will raise a fuss. I'll sneak up instead, that will probably mollify him. I announce, "Bob sneaks up behind the orc, kills him and takes his treasure."
PoC. In this case, there is a significat Social Contract element to the System being used. There was a shift from 'wanting to kill the orc' and 'figuring out if I will be allowed to kill the orc'.

That's my take on it anyway. I didn't include any examples of external negotiation because that seemed clearly to be a PoC.

So, Universalis would be high PoC because every time you try to add to the SIS you ahve to be concerned with coin management and whether the other players are liekly to challenge you. Whereas, My Life with Master (I think, having only read about the game), you use mechanics to determine a general outcome, but then have pretty much free riegn to narrate a whole scene.

Am I even close? :)


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Alan on August 18, 2005, 09:51:45 AM
Hi Larry,

A player may curb his proposal in anticipation of a point of contact, but those thoughts are not "referencing" the POC themselves.  A point of contact only occurs when the player proposes something to the group.  The group process then references any Points of Contact. 






Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Larry L. on August 18, 2005, 10:56:46 AM
Alan,

I'm not sure what that has to do with my posts to this thread. Perhaps you are replying to "daHob?"



Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: M. J. Young on August 18, 2005, 07:34:36 PM
My feeling is that a Point of Contact is any moment in play where the negotiation of credibility becomes overt.
Jay, I know I disagree with a lot of what you say, so I thought I'd make a point of saying I think that's really very good. It's not really all that different from my point about moments when authorities are brought into play, but it gets to the heart of the matter: we bring authorities into play to bolster our credibility. That is, we say, "I've got a seventeen strength" as a way of giving credence to our claim that we can lift this object, and we point to the roll of the dice as supporting our claim that we hit the orc.

So I agree. A point of contact is a moment during which we are citing authorities in support of individual credibility to determine whose version of the shared imagined space is accepted. If it's just said and accepted without reference to anything outside the shared imagined space, it's not a point of contact. If we have a connection to something outside the shared imagined space that is used to determine whose description or perception of what happens is accepted, that's where a point of contact has occurred.

Thanks for that.

--M. J. Young


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Silmenume on August 19, 2005, 05:36:51 PM
Right On!!!


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Jason Lee on August 20, 2005, 10:57:18 PM
Jay,

I can dig that. So points of contact include anytime someone:
  • Says, "Roll for that."
  • Cites a rule.
  • Says, "No, I think it should be..."

I'm trying to identify more of these "ephemera level" events.

Hmmm... points of contact that are not Validation...

In terms of design any game that explicitly assigns narrations rights could be said to have more points of contact in that area than a rules system that does not.  That's a bit tricky when it actually hits play though, because the players will have a system for assigning narration rights even if they didn't get it from the rule book.  So, I suppose there is no actual cost to assigning them in the rules.

Though, if you have a system that trades narration rights based on certain events, such as success or failure of resolution, I think a case could be made for that having additional points of contact in the Integration stage beyond the more simple "GM narrates results" systems.

This could be extended to concepts like initiative systems, which determine the order in which players get to make proposals.  They can get very heavy in points of contact if they are some sort of resource mechanic like in Feng Shui and Shadowrun.

Additional effectiveness layers that determine whether or not you can even propose an action could be additional points of contact.  For example, if you have two magic systems that are indentical except one uses fuel of some kind (like mana or blood points), the one that uses fuel will have additional points of contact in the Conception stage.  Because, you need to reference your available fuel to determine if you can even attempt the action ("I need 5 blood points to invoke Uber DIE DIE Thingy and I only have 3... damn").


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 22, 2005, 03:55:42 PM
In case anyone cares, all of the recent posts are making a hell of a lot of sense to me.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Callan S. on August 22, 2005, 07:50:05 PM
So I agree. A point of contact is a moment during which we are citing authorities in support of individual credibility to determine whose version of the shared imagined space is accepted. If it's just said and accepted without reference to anything outside the shared imagined space, it's not a point of contact. If we have a connection to something outside the shared imagined space that is used to determine whose description or perception of what happens is accepted, that's where a point of contact has occurred.
Is this a reasonable example of no PoC and PoC?

No PoC:
Jim describes a fountain.
Bob "I go and wash my blood stained clothes in the fountain"

PoC:
Jim describes a fountain.
Bob "You know that fountain Jim described? I go and wash my blood stained clothes in it"


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: M. J. Young on August 25, 2005, 03:01:52 PM
It took me a moment to figure out what you were after, Callan.

I think on reflection that it's not; it is a distinction between first person play and third person play, I think, but referencing what someone said that way is not a point of contact so much as a means of interacting with the shared imagined space directly.

Both statements amount to [I wash my clothes in the fountain] [which Jim just described]; both reference something in the shared imagined space. In the latter case, it is being explicitly recognized that this is that particular object, as viewed from the outside of the shared imagined space. I see the argument that we are appealing to "what Jim described" as an external authority, but I think we are rather appealing to an object established in the Shared Imagined Space that happens to have a metagame label on it, "Described by Jim".

I can also see a slight change in this that would be a point of contact:
Bob: "Last week Jim described a fountain. According to my notes, it is here, it is large enough to bathe in it, and the water is clean. I wash my clothes in that fountain."

At that point the point of contact is created by reference to the notes, which are an authority concerning what has been established in the shared imagined space.

So maybe your case is one of those "the rabbit or the duck" pictures. It really depends on whether we are referencing an object in the shared imagined space that is most quickly identified as "the one Jim described" or whether we are referencing an authority that amounts to "the description Jim gave" to establish the existence of the fountain.

Have I muddled the matter entirely?

--M. J. Young


Title: Re: What ever happened to Points of Contact?
Post by: Callan S. on August 26, 2005, 09:09:07 PM
No, not muddled. I'll try and get across the emphasis I wanted (in the way I imagined it being said).
 
PoC:
Jim describes a fountain.
Bob "You know that fountain Jim described? Because of that I can go and wash my blood stained clothes in it"

Or even more explicitly:

Bob "Because Jim described a fountain, I go and wash my blood stained clothes in it"

This is the intent the first PoC example should have contained. The wording could be taken to be something else. If I was immersion inclined I might only read it as just an SIS references, I think.