The Forge Archives

General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: hix on August 23, 2005, 05:37:38 PM



Title: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 23, 2005, 05:37:38 PM
Our group’s just started a d20 Star Wars game, which’ll probably run 4 or 5 eps (face to face). It's set about 80 years after the end of Return of the Jedi and our mission is to track down a Jedi Master who's gone missing. This is with my regular indie-gaming group; we’ve been together about 2 years.

Because I know the GM pretty well, I asked him a few questions during our group character generation session.  Would we've all be working as a party, D&D style, and not separating very much?  Yes.  Did he have a specific storyline in mind that we'd be going through?  Yes.

At the end of char-gen, we played the first session for about 30 minutes.  People settled into the game; I adjusted my characterisation so that I could contribute more*.  After the game the GM asked what we would like to see in future episodes.  Based on those 30 minutes, I requested one action scene (a fight, a chase, whatever) to every two scenes of talking.

Basically, I think I’d wrapped my head around the idea that we would be playing Sim.  I had designed a character I thought could contribute to that, accepted that this was going to be a rail-roading or 'all roads lead to Rome' type of story and made a suggestion to improve my experience.

Session 2 started really well: two fight scenes that (in some respects) felt like PlayStation levels.  Really fun.

Then the game stalled for about an hour, hour and a half, as we followed up lead after lead for where the Jedi Master could have gone, brainstormed possibilities and basically investigated a mystery without an obvious answer.  At the end of a fruitless aerial scout of part of the planet, the GM (and in context, this was completely reasonable) expressed bafflement at our actions and said he was wondering why we had decided to do that.

I lost my temper.  Said it was because we didn't have a frickin’ clue about what we were supposed to do and we were completely out of options.

Soon after, the group made a unilateral decision to head to a possible location and the Star Wars vibe resumed.

After the game, the GM indicated that he'd had no particular preference for where we were heading to next. He had set up 2 options (which we did know about through our investigations), and he was actually surprised we ended up heading for a 3rd location. Also, there may have been some issues in how the situation was presented: I know I was expecting to pick up the Jedi Master's trail and figure out where they were going, but all the clues seemed to lead us back to where the Jedi Master had been.

Points:
1) I don't normally lose my temper.
2) Going in, I really wanted to ID (to my satisfaction) the creative agenda and the GM’s expectations from players.
3) Our group isn’t Big Model theory-heavy. For instance, although we’ve had a conversation about our most satisfying play experiences, we’ve never sat down and discussed Creative Agenda.
4) I think I was being frustrated by an unacknowledged switch from Sim to Gamism.

The game went from ‘be cool in the Star Wars universe' to 'figure out what to do next from a bunch of non-obvious options'.  I think I found this particularly frustrating because we had all read this article by Steve Darlington (http://ptgptb.org/0022/theforce.html?session=5XcnGnjmYXOki2y0EM1obfHSaP). In particular, I thought the section entitled "The Big Narrative Push" would apply.

BTW: by the end of the session, things had gone back to ‘be cool in the Star Wars universe' .

* My character was originally going to be suffering from self-esteem issues, now it's that he is perceived to be evil.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 23, 2005, 07:54:13 PM
Hiya,

I'm kind of puzzled. I don't see any Gamism. Perhaps you can clarify?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 23, 2005, 08:14:11 PM
Steve's thinking that the puzzle of finding the master is challenge to be met.

Steve: that's not gamism, because not one of you seem to be expecting anything even remotely like Step on Up. Think about it:
GM? No, he's just supplying a narrative for you. Unfortunately the rules he's set himself up with say that you have to figure the next step yourself. But it's clearly because he doesn't have any tools for characters-play-detective-players-do-not, so he's forced to make players play detective to simulate characters doing the same.
Players? No, they are just interested in getting to the next step. At least you don't indicate that you were particularly trying to overcome a challenge, rather than just playing your part as detectives.

If I may offer a suggestion, your frustated hour and half seem to stem from the GM not realizing that he could give you OOC information. A pretty functional technique for that kind of play is to simply tell the answer to the puzzle (where the jedi master is) to the players, and ask them to come up with the way their characters find it out. A kind of reverse deduction where the answer is already known. It's also very pleasurable and natural to figure out the procedure that gets the character to the goal. Is he the kind of hero who gets by on luck? Or encyclopedic knowledge? Or keen awareness? Just pick something, throw out some pittoresque images, and get on with the game.

So if there's any trouble, it's in the techniques the GM is applying, and in you not speaking up sooner. Why not just ask the GM what you're supposed to be doing when the game grounded to halt? Am I wrong here?


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 23, 2005, 09:10:54 PM
Ron, Eero's dead-on about where I thought the Gamist challenge might be. And of course there's no Step On Up - the players were all co-operating to try and find a solution; the GM wanted us to find a lead and take a next step in the story. There's no Gamism there because there's no real competition or challenge, right?

Quote from: Eero
A pretty functional technique for that kind of play is to simply tell the answer to the puzzle (where the jedi master is) to the players, and ask them to come up with the way their characters find it out.

Eero, that's a really nifty suggestion for progressing a puzzle.

As for why I didn't speak up (OOC), I felt like it'd be breaking some sort of social norm. Which is weird, given that we've played Sorcerer and Uni & that we talk about the stakes and events surrounding a game at least some of the time. Anyway, I think I can raise points like this (that I'm feeling frustrated or that I'm uncertain about the next step) tactfully, if issues like this come up again.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Larry L. on August 23, 2005, 11:02:22 PM
Hi Steve,

Man, there's just something about d20 that encourages this sort of CA schizophrenia. Everything's rolling along smooth, and then BAM! no fun. I suppose it comes from trying to be all things to all players.

I think it's a little dissapointing the GM didn't just take the avenue of investigation the players were following and run with it, making it successful and cool and leading to the next bit of plot he had worked out. But it sounds like you already understand that this is a kink to be worked out socially between the players, above the matter of the game system. Better to lose your temper a bit than sit there and suffer in silence.

It sounds like you're making the assumption that the game will automatically be a coherent member of one of the three CAs and it's just a matter of figuring out which one. It seems more likely in this case that play just drifted between fun parts and zilchplay due to CA incoherence.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: gsoylent on August 23, 2005, 11:57:30 PM
Quote from: Eero
A pretty functional technique for that kind of play is to simply tell the answer to the puzzle (where the jedi master is) to the players, and ask them to come up with the way their characters find it out.

Wow. Forgive a Forge newbie's newbieness, but wow. That approach had never occurred to me, and now my head is spinning with the possibilites.

Can you expand on this technique (or is there an example in Actual Play). If they know ooc the solution to the puzzle, is there a presumption that the characters will figure out the solution too, or could the players through, say for example repeated failed hacking and streetwise roles, fail to solve it?


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Rob Carriere on August 24, 2005, 02:26:44 AM
Can you expand on this technique (or is there an example in Actual Play). If they know ooc the solution to the puzzle, is there a presumption that the characters will figure out the solution too, or could the players through, say for example repeated failed hacking and streetwise roles, fail to solve it?

The answer should be: the characters can fail or succeed as the players want. That may involve tweaking difficulties or even selecting a different rule system altogether.

As for an example, I don't know any Actual Play ones of the top of my head, but here's one lifted from a theory discussion:
The best example of an illusionist technique with positive value is The Moving Clue. In a mystery campaign, the player characters must collect the clues to solve the mystery. The referee knows that they need certain information to get the answer. Let us suppose one of the "facts" they must discover is that the master of the house left the grounds alone at three o'clock. In a "standard" design, there would be one character who knew that. Let's say, for example, that it was the chauffer--"I asked if he wanted me to drive, but he said he just wanted to take the Jaguar for a spin, and left." Now, if the players ask the chauffer, they get that clue, and they can solve the mystery. However, if they never question the chauffer, they never solve the mystery--the entire game is derailed by their decision (whether affirmative or by omission) to talk to the chauffer. Using The Moving Clue technique, however, the referee has decided that someone the player characters question will give them that information--it doesn't matter who. It will be, for example, the third person questioned. The information will be couched in a way that fits that character--the cook saw him drive by from the kitchen window, or the scullery made saw him head for the garage with his briefcase, or the gardener saw him pull out onto the highway. Suddenly the game can't be derailed by player choice. It's an illusionist technique that preserves player power by removing the impact or meaning of a decision.

Hope that helps,
SR
--


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: epweissengruber on August 24, 2005, 05:56:55 AM
The players could propose a "cool way to find the Jedi master" in keeping with the "being cool in the Star Wars universe" agenda.

That doesn't mean traditional resolution methods go out the window.  The GM could ask for a number of skill checks that would impact the condition of the PC's before they find the master.

I am thinking of Donjon here, or the rules for follow-up conflicts from Dogs in the Vineyard or Sorceror.

The GM has to define the opposition that adds conflict to the "cool way to find the Jedi master."  In DitV there is a "general threat level" of 4d6 + Demonic Influence that the GM can throw into any unopposed challenge.  The "Levels" of Donjon serve in a similar capacity.

Perhaps your GM can create a "Lords of the Sith" threat level that can float in whenver the PCs are undertaking an action with no obvious opponent.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on August 24, 2005, 01:41:44 PM
To step back from actually making any helpful practical suggestions and reiterate the basic theoretical point for a moment:

As others have said, this problem has nothing to do with Creative Agenda; it's far more basic an issue of human communications. Fumbling blindly for a specific solution with no opportunity to show cleverness or daring is not Gamism; refusing to step out of character to talk, as real people, about something that's not working and not fun is not Simulationism. There's this strange fetish of traditional roleplaying that we, as real people, should never say how we want the game to go, because it's either "cheating" (insanity masquerading as Gamism) or "breaking character" (insanity masquerading as Simulationism), but not talking about what you want is a great way to ensure you never get it. (Think about any unhappily married couple that communicates only through glares, dangled half-sentences, and resentful silences). If you want something, and it involves other people, and those other people do not have psychic mind-reading powers, you have to tell them.

And that was a rant, wasn't it?


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on August 24, 2005, 01:46:36 PM
P.S.: Steve (Hix), I'm not ranting at you personally. But there are so many examples of this same phenomenon in Actual Play threads I kinda snapped:

Players: Well, we could do A, or B, or C.
GM: Only one of those will result in anything interesting, and the others will result in hours of boredom and frustration.
Players: Of course, we could never ask you which is the interesting one.
GM: No! That would be wrong with bad wrongess!


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 24, 2005, 04:59:49 PM
That was no rant, Sydney. That was a reasoned, fair, and accurate statement.

Steve (hix), is this making any sense to you at all?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 24, 2005, 06:08:01 PM
Quote from: Sydney
If you want something, and it involves other people, and those other people do not have psychic mind-reading powers, you have to tell them.

Sydney, no worries. That looks like pretty solid advice to me.

Quote from: Ron
Steve, is this making any sense to you at all?

It is.

The surface problem: I couldn't come up with a 'right' answer for this puzzle.

The underlying problem: At the moment our group doesn’t have a mechanism for calling time-out. Therefore I “couldn’t” talk to the other players and sound them out about how they were feeling … or to the GM, to see whether he was getting frustrated with our lack of progress.

I think that brings up a bunch of related stuff.  That criticising the game (even constructive criticism) implies criticism of the person running the game. That speaking up means ruining other players’ suspension of disbelief.

Guess the next step’s to make sure everyone in the group has had a chance to read this. There's a whole bunch of stuff we need to discuss …

  • If someone in the group (player or GM) isn’t having fun, is it better to stay silent (so they don’t spoil anyone else’s fun) or to speak up?
  • If you’re not having fun, how do you find out if you’re alone in that? (And – worst case - if you’re alone in that, what happens then?)
  • How do you speak up? Do you wait for a break in the game? Do you call a time out?
  • When’s appropriate to speak up? For instance, I like solving puzzles. So for a long time I was actually engaged with the issue – and then gradually became aware I wasn’t getting anywhere. Should I have spoken up right at that point? Should I wait an arbitrary amount of time to see if the situation resolves itself (5 minutes? 20 minutes?)

The point is if we have an understanding about how and why we speak up, we can sort the situation out reasonably among friends (rather than in a petulant outburst).

And BTW, our group has a lot of fun play under its belt (including an enjoyable MLwM game run by this GM). That fact that this is unusual is probably the reason I’m drawing attention to it. All I want is more of the cool Star Wars action we’ve been having while exploring this nasty epic plot he’s developed.

That's what I've taken from this so far, anyway ...


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 24, 2005, 06:13:15 PM
IOW

You play to have fun.

If you're not having fun, you should be able to tell the friends you're playing with (and it shouldn't be a big deal).

Then your friends can help you have fun.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Seraph on August 24, 2005, 09:42:21 PM
I can see, in retrospect, why the players may have felt at a loss and frustrated - though this must be said :

- The whole thrust of the adventure is to find the missing Jedi Master, who seems to have something to do with the current emerging menace.
- PC's investigate last place she was at. Find that she and apprentice met there and left. They find clues that the Master has been having SOME kind of connection / contact with Sith. Also that she was extremely upset - certain contacts on another planet have been turning up dead.
- Further clues point out that the last place she was at was said planet. Find out that her apprentice was at different planet.
- PC's find NO other evidence or clues.

I had thought ( possibly naively ) that exploring the LAST place either of them had been at would have been a good move, but I am reminded that PC's will not necessarily think along the same lines.

I would have had NO problems with players saying "What is going on ? I can't see where we're going..." or "Given what we have found out - what would be a good next step?" - or possibly even "Fess up Moretto!! Freaking what are we supposed to do ???" - as you're right, the RP is SUPPOSED to be fun. BUT - I would also like to think that if the players had been told "Look - this game is going to have a lot of kick-arse action in it ... but it's ALSO going to be a mystery-horror story too" that they might expect not to find a clue in the opening chapters of the story which says "The Jedi Master who has been missing for weeks is at these galactic coordinates".

Y'know ?

Like I say - I had thought the situation was pretty clear - "There is no further information here. Missing person had been HERE last. Her partner had been HERE last."
There was NO correct next step. Or rather - the correct next step was "go somewhere".
I WAS surprised when the characters decided to go to a different place ( though it wasn't a wrong thing to do - the plot continued, though in a slightly different form ) but it was still good.

I think that sometimes, probably as a result of overly linear plot lines and overly critical GM's ( "No ! Why are you doing that ? You're running the story you idiots !! You're supposed to do this !" ), that players agonize over what the "right" response to a problem is. My players spent ages picking over a place that ( I thought obviously ) had nothing more to reveal - rather than going "She went to X, and he went to Y?? Cool - let's ship out to ...X !" - diagonal wipe - Right, when you dock in the main starport in X ...
Like I said - though Yavin 4 was a surprise to me in terms of a location ( A ship that had been mentioned in the Masters files which had been involved in covert missions for the Jedi council in the rise of the Empire era had been known to have been there - once, and the sketchs of a unknown tomb bore striking similarities to the Sith buildings on Yavin ) BUT the plot continued.

Should I have intervened earlier ?

I guess I should have.

Did I actually NOTICE frustration and anger ?

Honestly - no. When Hix called me up a day or two later and said "Hey - I'm sorry I lost my temper", my answer was "... You lost you're temper ? With me ? When ???"
And this is a group ( myself included ) which can get lost in side details - and that CAN be fun.

Would I have been ruining their "fun" by pushing them unnecessarily on ?
Would I have freaked out and been upset if my players told me they had no real idea what they were supposed to do next ?

Can't imagine why I would have. It's more important that the players have fun.

Sure - I want the players to actually work out the mystery by themselves as much as possible, but sometimes they might have to go out on a limb and experiment. Will I let them wind up on a planet / location / whatever and say "Nah - this is totally wrong ! Try again dumbass !" ? Jeez - I hope not. But sometimes it can be slightly frustrating to try and re-jig things to fit what the characters end up doing. Case in point - the end of the last chapter : PC's had discovered that their ship had been infiltrated by remote spider drones - all taking images of the ( rather rare ) droid PC. They slice into the drones programming and find they have linked with their hyperspace comms - and are transmitting data back to Corusant ( the LAST place the Master was at, and who had said, in the holo-log that her droid contacts had been turning up dead/wiped/blown-up/whatever ). They open a line to Corusant - though a deactivated drone, and keep the line pen long enough to get a pretty close fix on where the signal was being relayed to ( a rather seedy nightclub area in the lower levels - not that the PC's actually bothered to check ). So the they have a pretty strong damn lead here ( well - I think anyway ) - it relates to their mission ( Master was there, signal leads to there ), it relates to them personally ( someone / something is snooping on them in a pretty sinister kind of way ) and there are cross-information points ( PC being scanned is a droid - droids have been getting rubbed out - droids getting rubbed out were known by Master ) and they have a pretty tight fix on WHERE all that is happening now.

So - what is the VERY first thing they say on getting that location info ?

"Hey - we have people on Corusant ! We'll contact them and tell them all this and they can deal with it. Right ... what do we do now?"

"Damn it!" I wail desperately to myself "This ISN'T going to happen again !" - so a rather large war-ship jumps out of hyperspace to deal them sereval degrees of hurt and inject some much needed action.

I don't wish to sound defensive here ( although I'm conscious that I probably HAVE through this entire post ) - but please don't just leap up and down on the ole GM.

Did I make mistakes and not see things I should have ? Yup. I will be the first to admit that.

BUT - did the PLAYERS take into consideration the actual GENRE of the game ( and I believe they were told this pretty clearly ) ? Should they have expected to have solved the big mystery STRAIGHT AWAY ? Did they actually DO things and follow a small, but-hell-it's-all-we-have-and-it's-crazy-enough-to-work lead ? Are they taking the secondary ( and naturally, bigger and more pointed ) clues on board ? Are they referring back to the information they HAVE found out and seeing connections and stronger possible leads ? Y'know ... like you would expect to do in a ... say ... mystery ?

I don't know.

Believe me - I WANT to tell a exciting and intense story. And y'know - maybe there IS a certain amount of frustration to be had in ANY mystery. Isn’t that going to be what DRIVES you ? To SOLVE the damn thing. Are you the kind of person who WANTS that bonehead to bumble out "Hey - you should move THAT card THERE ..." when you're playing solitaire ? Or are you the kind of person who would happily wring that bonehead's neck ? Me ? I HATE people who spoil a mystery of puzzle for me. I don't WANT you're help !! I want to work it out myself !!!
But if someone ASKS for aid - I'm not going to laugh and point at them !

Look - my players are smart, intelligent and creative people. All of them. And I'm sure that part of the reason they DIDN'T ask for help is that they DID want to solve it themselves, not that they felt bad or stupid for asking for help. I perhaps think that the sudden gear change from very obvious and immediate choices ( "There are a bunch of crazed dark-troopers right in front of you." "Well - I punch the landspeeder into low gear - jam the accelerator into overdrive, course correct to ram them - and leap out at the last possible second - blowing those scumbags into their component atoms !" "Cool ! Roll !" ) to less pressing and reason based ones caught them like deer in a headlight.
"What ? There's no more clues ?? ... but ... I don't know anything for SURE ! I ... only know where they had BEEN ! Not where they went TO ... must ...go ... forward ! No point ... to ... going ... back ...! Makes ... no ... sense ! Error ! Error ! Does not compute !! You CAN'T expect me to go on a HUNCH !"

And as GM - that's my 2 cents.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Svend on August 25, 2005, 01:57:28 AM
Well, look at it from another perspective:

In the whole of the Star Wars universe, the players know two places that the person that they're looking almost certainly isn't. (Well, three, counting the place the game started in.)  Now, if the goal is to find the person, why would they go to the places that they think they aren't? :)

I can't speak for the others, and I don't know how much of this is post facto, but I think the reasoning might have been something like -- we're at the beginning, so we should move forward, chasing after the McGuffin until we catch up.  The next step is obviously not where she is now, but wherever she went right after this.  So... where can we find the thing that moves us forward?  Okay, here's some background stuff... doesn't look like the way forward... more background stuff... this is what they've been doing... uh-huh... well, they came here, so there must be something here that tells us where they went next, so we can get to the next step... if we don't find something soon, we'll have to go backward instead; no, there must be something we missed...

(Going back in person to the most densly-populated planet in the setting, where our powerful employer's main base is situated, when they're calling us and saying that what we're doing is important... well, why wouldn't you say, "Could you please ask the network of agents you no doubt have already in position to find out this stuff, since they're probably pretty good at that sort of thing, being professional spy-type guys with contacts and whatnot?"  If we had no other leads, I would have advocated going to the smuggler's moon that was mentioned, since based on my character's background he'd be likely to have an edge; but again, we knew that the person we were looking for almost certainly wasn't there.)

I think that I might have been expecting a slightly more pulpy structure, where the parts of the mystery are revealed as the action moves forward, rather than having the investigation driving the action; and I think that's why I assumed finding the next step in the journey of the person we were tracing must be discoverable from where we were.  Tracing their path backwards seemed like saying, "Okay, let's delay moving forward some more, while we ask some more questions of a larger group."

Now, it's certainly true that we could have said, "How do we go forward?" at the point we were flailing -- but there always seemed to be options that we hadn't yet tried.  On the other hand, since the GM had presented several options, and we still appeared to be searching, they could have asked us why we weren't following any of them up -- not a "clues thataway" type thing, but a "what is your character thinking about this?" dealie.  Having said that, I'm not sure I would think to ask if I were in that position, and even if it did occur to me, I'd probably worry that I'd be perceived as saying "hey, you know this is the solution, right?"

FWIW, the warship at the end of the session didn't seem particularly arbitary. :)


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 25, 2005, 04:50:16 AM
Hey guys,

I'm glad you're all here, and there's a big chance for this thread to yield some helpful points. Based on literally thousands of posts, though, I have a cautionary point to add right now.

It is: never mind what the characters should or shouldn't have been thinking. Let's not spend any time at all about what they did or didn't know, did or didn't do, or anything like that. Instead, the key is here:

Steve wrote,

Quote
At the moment our group doesn’t have a mechanism for calling time-out. Therefore I “couldn’t” talk to the other players and sound them out about how they were feeling … or to the GM, to see whether he was getting frustrated with our lack of progress.

Whoa Nelly. Am I reading this correctly? Is either the group, or you Steve personally, under the impression that during play, people cannot talk to one another as people? That if Duke Borgo is ducking and dodging your lightsaber attacks, then you, Steve, cannot turn to someone and say, "Dude, I'm lost. Who was he again?" Or even, "Rad, this is like Yojimbo," or really, anything at all?

Especially since Seraph wrote something quite different:

Quote
I would have had NO problems with players saying "What is going on ? I can't see where we're going..." or "Given what we have found out - what would be a good next step?" - or possibly even "Fess up Moretto!! Freaking what are we supposed to do ???" - as you're right, the RP is SUPPOSED to be fun.

If you guys can't even get it together about which of these concepts of playing together is in action, then I dunno what to say. For instance, Seraph, your following text about what the players ought to expect from a story of a particular type is totally irrelevant now - without solid and social confirmation about what kind of story it is, during play itself, then you cannot reasonably expect a three-word pre-play summary to have exactly the impact/relevance you'd like throughout.the session.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Rob Carriere on August 25, 2005, 05:23:14 AM
The underlying problem: At the moment our group doesn’t have a mechanism for calling time-out. Therefore I “couldn’t” talk to the other players and sound them out about how they were feeling … or to the GM, to see whether he was getting frustrated with our lack of progress.
As a random data point: we basically use two OOC channels. The first, and widest, is that we always make sure we talk before and/or after the games. Having dinner together is one fun way to do that. The second channel is that if someone wants to make OOC contribution to the game (as opposed to, say, asking for the coke bottle OOC) they make a time-out gesture, like the American sports refs.

We try to avoid using the second channel for critique or course-change requests (mostly as a matter of taste), but it's wonderful for clarification ("I'm being really quiet right now because I'm on the edge of hysteria") or compliments ("Cool! You found the one argument that will work!")

Now that's just one example way of doing things, there's many, many ways out there. You guys will have to figure out what works for you. But you have to figure out something. A group without a functional OOC channel is a ship without a rudder.

Quote
I think that brings up a bunch of related stuff.  That criticising the game (even constructive criticism) implies criticism of the person running the game.
So say what you liked about the game, not what you disliked. That sounds stupid, but it really works. (And once everybody is used to the game being post-mortemed, the association criticism of game = criticism of me usually fades, so you can speak both about what you liked and what you disliked.)

Another important thing, especially in the beginning: tone and amount. I've found that people who are not used to critiqueing professionally overdo both. The inevitable result is that the other(s) feel attacked and that all possible benefit is lost. One very silly sounding rule of thumb that works for a lot of people is to not complain about more than one thing and mention at least three that were good. The end goal is to get to the point where you are having a natural conversation, not a trial (not even a trial ending in acquittal.)

As for when people are bored, watch their eyes, watch their focus. Even if people are playing very IC, you can still see their eyes light up when they're excited, you can still see how quickly they move their head to follow who is speaking. And with most people I've played with, when their character isn't in the scene, the entire body language reverts to being the player's. As the psych people will tell you, body language has five times the bandwidth of speech, and it is devoted entirely to answering the sort questions you are asking. If you pay attention to that, you will not have to ask who had fun when, you will know. (For a GM who is comfortable with improvising, this is the most wonderful tool you can imagine.)

SR
--


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Sydney Freedberg on August 25, 2005, 06:12:44 AM
A specific gesture to say "I'm going to speak out of character now, okay?" is a cool idea -- I've never tried that, though I understand it's common in LARPs -- although I suppose it could make going OOC too big a deal, as opposed to a brief aside of, "Hey, that was lame/confusing/cool!" The key thing is that everyone feels comfortable and able to communicate, of course.

And (as long as I'm channelling Ron Edwards), I'll offer a suggestion based on reading bunches of Actual Play: Players and GMs posting lots of detail on what happened in-game almost never helps. You'd think it would, but in practice, nope. Anyone who wasn't there (i.e. most Forge people), who doesn't know the given group and how they interact, won't have the context -- the "vibe" around the gaming table -- to interpret the details properly; worse, often the people who were there start feeling defensive about what feels like criticism in a public forum, which can lead to the dreaded spiral downwards into flameage. Detailed stuff about what happened in your game is probably best for face-to-face conversations where you can read each other's body language and not worry about everyone with a Web browser being able to overhear you; this forum really can only help you at a more general level.

Oh, and finally: I came on pretty strong (for me) a while back, but I want to emphasize, I'm not saying, "oh, it's the railroading GM's fault!" or "oh, it's the dumb players' fault!" or even "oh, your whole group is screwed up." Sitting here hundreds of miles away from the real-world interactions among the human beings, I'm not even qualified to judge.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 25, 2005, 10:50:25 AM
Quote from: Ron
Am I reading this correctly? Is either the group, or you Steve personally, under the impression that during play, people cannot talk to one another as people?

Ron, the situation’s less extreme. In our group OOC talk at the level of “Now who was Duke Borgo?” and “Pass the coke” happens all the time. *

What I’m talking about is critiquing the game while it’s in progress at a deeper level – especially stuff that we don’t like.

For example, last night Seraph & I had a really good long talk about this. We agreed that the issue here wasn’t how we were solving the puzzle (should we go forward or back; should we keep searching on this planet), but instead that everyone seemed to be operating under a different assumption. From this thread, we've seen:

Quote
Svend: "Well, the Jedi Master came here, so there must be something here that tells us where she went next."

Gino: "I HATE people who spoil a mystery of puzzle for me. You don't WANT my help !! You want to work it out yourselves !!!"

Me: "There has to be a ‘right’ solution to this puzzle."

Not sure what Jenni, Celeste or Wayne’s assumptions were (and I would like to know) – but when you unbundle them like this after the fact it’s pretty obvious how they led to the four-car pileup we experienced. That's the deeper level of OOC talk I'm wondering about.

I have two questions. First, does anyone else in the group feel it's important to talk about stuff like those assumptions or not having fun in the game while it's happening? Second, what's the best way to raise those issues?**

* I like this OOC talk, seems Gino does too.  Svend, Jenni, Celeste, Wayne, what do you think about it? I don’t believe we’ve ever Discussed it.

** And there have been some useful thoughts on that so far. Thanks!


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 25, 2005, 11:30:54 AM
Hiya,

See, in our game group, "Uh, who was Duke Borgo again?" and "Waitaminute, you're not trying to present some sort of secret for us to figure out, are you?" are handled exactly the same - right there during play, intermixed with role-playing statements, as plain old dialogue.

I am a big foe of distinguishing between IC and OOC play. I hate the very idea of "channels." To me, IC is a minor technique that resides entirely within a big block of OOC. If the IC doesn't make sense in purely OOC terms, then it's not working.

Perhaps you guys might consider that way of looking at it? If so, then it will be OK to ask for any sort of clarifier, whether it's "what can we [the characters] see" or "what are your [a person's] expectations of us [the other people]."

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 25, 2005, 12:25:07 PM
Quote from: Ron
If the IC doesn't make sense in purely OOC terms, then it's not working.

I'm nodding along to everything else in your post Ron, but that I don't get. Could you expand on what you mean?


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 25, 2005, 12:38:43 PM
Hiya,

What I mean is this.

I say something like "Alanna leaps forward and her steely sword rings loud in the night! Hackety-hack!" Seize my dice, look fierce.

I actually don't talk like that during play, but bear with me.

Now, don't imagine Alanna. Imagine me sitting with all my friends at the table. What are they doing?

a) Saying stuff as suggestions or edits of what I'm saying, further contributing to the SIS.

That would be more IC stuff along with mine and can be lumped with it.

b) Grinning, fingering their own dice, maybe utilizing rules to give me a bonus, or maybe other rules for their characters to take advantage of me due to this action, whatever.

c) Saying "hold on, I'll be right back" if they just hopped up, or starting a quick dialogue about how Alanna really just nailed her resemblance to a well-known actress, even saying a line from a movie that was a lot like mine in some way. Or maybe saying to me "Don't talk back!" to rhyme with "whackety-whack" in the fashion of the old R&B song.

Contrary to popular belief, both of these highly reinforce and validate the imaginary material. Or the better way to look at it is, my imaginative contribution prompted all of these supportive and fun interactions of whatever kind.

d) Saying, "Jesus, we were just talking with that guy," or "what, another fight?" Or perhaps taking that cue to say "There goes the next hour for the bimbo's fight scene, what's on TV?" Or even worse, "Don't interrupt! He goes on to tell you that the dragon lives in the Cave of Evil."

Which is, of course, all suxxorg.

See what I mean? People are forever making a big deal about (a-b) as opposed to (c-d), when the real odd man out is (d) alone.

When (a) and (b), in their entirety, are considered part of (c), then discussion about how the game is going during play is open, fun, relaxed, and easy.

It's a real reversal of all the bullshit text in all those games you've read. It means that we do not put the "out of game" stuff on one blackboard and the "in game" stuff on another. It means that imagined-stuff fun flows imaginatively and procedurally within a matrix of non-imagined, real-person, social, actual-talk fun.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 25, 2005, 01:59:15 PM
Thanks Ron.

I think it’s important to hear from the other players now. Dudes, has this thread triggered anything for you? What are your thoughts on this (a),(b),(c),(d) stuff? How important’s “staying in character” to you? Is this all just over-thinking the situation? It’d be cool to get an idea of where we all are.

(Oh, and the ideas about solving mysteries from the start of the thread have been split off into this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16530.0).)



Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Seraph on August 25, 2005, 09:33:04 PM
IC ... OOC ... it's all good.
Somethings HAVE to be done out of character - though I do admitt that our group can hover in that (c) group more than I would like sometimes. Not that I really have a problem with that - but it can sometimes detract from the mood. But ... having said THAT, I think that we're pretty good at knowing when mood and atmosphere is important - and responding accordingly. When Jenni was having that medetation 'moment' for example - I can't remember anyone else saying a WORD ( which was good - cos it was supposed to be spooky and all ). Likewise - the great majority of the Sabriel - Old Kingdom game ran like that too ( which was also the vibe I was looking for ).
And then - the InSpectres games have been a (c) riot - and I think that's the mood the game ( well, OUR game anyway ) is supposed to generate. And it's good then.

Meh. OOC stuff doesn't bother me all that much I guess - only when it has an adverse effect on the atmosphere of the game.

Thanks for your thought Ron. It's good to get an outside perspective. Just wanna say though :
Quote
you cannot reasonably expect a three-word pre-play summary to have exactly the impact/relevance you'd like throughout.the session.

It was a a little bit more than just three words ! :)
I had outlined what the mystery was ( Jedi had disappeared - couldn't be found - important to find her ) I had thought pretty clearly. But you are right - I maybe needed to just ... I don't know ... keep reminding them or something.

Quote
Going back in person to the most densly-populated planet in the setting, where our powerful employer's main base is situated, when they're calling us and saying that what we're doing is important...

Svend man ! Did I explain that the war against the YV had pretty much screwed the rebublic ? Corusant was occupied by the YV ? New Rebublic forces spread thinly about the galaxy ? Perhaps just over a hundred Jedi Knights left, equally spread all over the place ?
I think I had ... :))

Still - the point is taken. I should have reminded you at that point. I don't think I was having very coherent thought patterns then though. I think the "internal wailing" was happening then.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2005, 04:59:17 AM
Hiya,

Seraph, I think you're missing my point a little. I'm saying there is no "IC."  It's all OOC, with IC being a sort of detail or specialized presentation. Does this make any sense at all?

Looking over your post, I still see a lot of protesting, a lot of defensiveness, and a very strong commitment to the internal logic of the imagined space:

Quote
Did I explain that the war against the YV had pretty much screwed the rebublic ? Corusant was occupied by the YV ? New Rebublic forces spread thinly about the galaxy ? Perhaps just over a hundred Jedi Knights left, equally spread all over the place ?
I think I had ... :))

I can tell you what I'd hear if you said that, prior to a game session. "Blah blah Star Wars blah Wars blah blah Jedi
blah." Seriously. That's exactly what I'd hear. It conveys literally nothing at all about what sort of game you'd like to play, what sort of activities might be most fun, and what kind of character or actions I ought to consider.

All of the following is provided for a source of contrast, not as a direct recommendation. You wrote,

Quote
I had outlined what the mystery was ( Jedi had disappeared - couldn't be found - important to find her ) I had thought pretty clearly. But you are right - I maybe needed to just ... I don't know ... keep reminding them or something.

I have a different proposal. Why not ... let go? You play the NPCs and the opportunities and so on as usual, but remember that big ol' story and the clues and the stuff they're supposed to find out? Let it go.

Look instead at the players, and how they've written their characters as opportunities for you. Instead of hooking them into your story, get yourself hooked into theirs. Instead of anticipating what a great story you'll tell them, provide tons of adversity and opportunities, anticipating what a great story will be produced.

All of this is only food for thought, not a direct recommendation, despite its phrasing ("proposal," etc). Let's not discuss it further here.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 26, 2005, 05:30:31 AM
Did I explain that the war against the YV had pretty much screwed the rebublic ? Corusant was occupied by the YV ? New Rebublic forces spread thinly about the galaxy ? Perhaps just over a hundred Jedi Knights left, equally spread all over the place ?
I think I had ... :))

I'd like to clarify Ron's point here: what he's about is that long experience suggests that you actually can't very well communicate player goals and methods through setting exposition. This is a pretty big empirical fact at this point, considering how massive amounts of failures we all have behind us in this regard. And no wonder, just think on what you're trying to achieve:
You say: Did I explain that the war against the YV had pretty much screwed the rebublic ? Corusant was occupied by the YV ? New Rebublic forces spread thinly about the galaxy ? Perhaps just over a hundred Jedi Knights left, equally spread all over the place ?
What players have to know: You're the heroes of the story, and nobody else's doing a whit. I've decided that we'll be doing a cool chase scene with flying cars at Coruscant next.
What actually happens: Players evaluate your statements according to in-game logic. They will think that surely there's other competent folks in Coruscant, despite the overall situation. It's not so black-and-white. Perhaps they feel that there's some chance of their other leads being correct, and want to ensure that somebody covers them, too. In a word, they play their characters freely according to their own interpretation.

The point is, what happened here? You talk IC, but try to communicate simple, straightforward story direction through exposing setting. Players take on the difficult task of deducing their route from your IC exposition, and come to some decision. Pretty often that decision is not what would seem logical for the GM, because deducing story direction from IC material is friggin' harder than GMs believe. The players don't have your brain, so they emphasize different things when interpreting your puzzle. That's why art in general has a strongly subjective component, which is one of the joys of it.

So that's why Ron gives no weight at all for IC exposition as a technique of story control. It doesn't work. Rather, he (I believe; at least I do) thinks that any important direction will be human-to-human, and any IC stuff will be explicitly subjective story material, to be interpreted freely. Because that what it is, objectively. So when you lay down setting precepts like the above quote, you're talking mood and general style, not some facts that have to be used to solve a puzzle. Or if they are facts that are necessary to solving a puzzle, you will write them down and give them a title: These Are Things You Need To Solve a Puzzle. That way nobody gets confused.

Of course, there's two things to do: one is to make sure players get the story control suggestions (you could have formalized rules for clues, so players can know what they should ignore and what not, for example; or you could just tell them OOC what they're supposed to do next), the other is to genuinely prepare to play in such a way that any interpretation made by the players is valid. So they don't have to guess right when solving the interpret-the-GM puzzle.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2005, 06:07:05 AM
Hello,

Actually, let's ignore that final couple of sentences at the end of your post, Eero. It will be most helpful to remain with the traditional (and very useful, very fun) approach that the back-story and the basic "what's happening" is part of GM prep.

The InSpectres approach of "make up the mystery as you solve it" isn't really what this group is after, for this game, as far as I can tell.

But for the majority of your post - yes and yes.

Seraph, I hope you're not experiencing this thread as a dogpile on you. In fact, I'm a little appalled at the players' passivity in general, especially for InSpectres veterans. Check out my comments to Steve above, regarding why or how they felt so incapable of asking you a straightforward and relevant question.

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Larry L. on August 26, 2005, 06:10:10 AM
See what I mean? People are forever making a big deal about (a-b) as opposed to (c-d), when the real odd man out is (d) alone.

When (a) and (b), in their entirety, are considered part of (c), then discussion about how the game is going during play is open, fun, relaxed, and easy.

It's a real reversal of all the bullshit text in all those games you've read. It means that we do not put the "out of game" stuff on one blackboard and the "in game" stuff on another. It means that imagined-stuff fun flows imaginatively and procedurally within a matrix of non-imagined, real-person, social, actual-talk fun.

Wow... That's a seriously excellent post, Ron. I mean, it's stuff you've been harping on for years, but I don't think this particular point has been so elegantly summarized before.

And this is a thing that has totally impacted my gaming enjoyment. This should be required reading in the future.


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 26, 2005, 08:44:07 AM
I don't mean this to become a dialogue with Ron, but I think this stuff can be useful for the group we're discussing...

Actually, let's ignore that final couple of sentences at the end of your post, Eero. It will be most helpful to remain with the traditional (and very useful, very fun) approach that the back-story and the basic "what's happening" is part of GM prep.

The InSpectres approach of "make up the mystery as you solve it" isn't really what this group is after, for this game, as far as I can tell.

I agree. What InSpectres does and what Ron refers to can be called "No Myth" game preparation. In that kind of game you essentially assume that nothing that's not yet been spoken aloud at the table is set in stone. Then you can just change the back-story and scenario around to fit the player actions, thus ensuring protagonism. You go to Tatooine, that means that the mystery will be solved at Tatooine.

But, I agree with Ron: that's clearly not what this group is after, nor it should be. I was thinking a little different solution at the end of my last post, the solution used by all the games originating from Sorcerer influences: GM does preparation still, but he prepares such material as to ensure that player protagonism is preserved regardless of "wrong" or "right" choices made by the players. This is what I meant by "genuinely prepare to play in such a way that any interpretation made by the players is valid. So they don't have to guess right when solving the interpret-the-GM puzzle."

How do you prepare like that? Well, it depends greatly on the game. But one major issue is that the GM shouldn't prepare a scenario that doesn't exert pressure on the player characters. Traditional adventure design assumes that the characters will be gunning for villains, and the villains react. Like the orc in the 20'x20' room, the villain (and the rest of the world) waits for the heroes to appear. This kind of preparation tends to be pretty deprotagonizing, because if the players decide to do something that takes them off the tracks, there is no dramatically appropriate way fort the GM to push the game anymore. The GM is a train engine, but when the game's out of tracks, the only thing he can do is clumsy Force-techniques to make it go back. No fun.

On the other hand, doing the other kind of game preparation is a different deal altogether: you situate the player characters in such a way that there is many separate methods for the GM to apply pressure, regardless of player choices. So if the characters decide to go to Tatooine, you have some NPCs or other forces that react in interesting ways to this decision. The NPCs are all interested in what the player characters do, and will want to interact with them in different ways.

To take this towards detective literature for a little bit: in most detective literature the detective doesn't actually do that much problem solving. Instead, he just stumbles around and sends the other characters in the story rolling all over the place. Then one of them snaps and sends his tough friends to beat the detective up in some alley. See? It doesn't really matter what the detective does, the situation is rigged in such a way that he'll be swept in the action regardless. The same is true of a Star Wars story: no matter if Luke & Ben had decided to go somewhere else instead of Mos Eisley, their connection with Darth Vader and the jedi legacy would have caused drama to appear anyway.

So, concretely: if your scenario is prepared to block players, they might well get stuck. Blocking means in it's simplest form: NPCs want to avoid the PCs instead of approaching. Allowing things, on the other hand, means: fun play is not dependent on the choices made by the players. If you avoid blocking players and work on allowing them things, you're preparing the game in a way that ensures that any choices made by the players are valid in the sense of leading to fun play.

So, in this particular situation: when the PCs don't find the jedi master, what then? Wouldn't it be exciting if some nefarious plot got underway and raised the stakes? And the PCs perhaps find some means to stopping it when searching for the jedi master and failing? This way it doesn't matter whether the characters find the jedi master or not, the game will be exciting regardless. Or, perhaps the jedi master has a motivation to find the PCs as well. Or the bad guys have. Anything to ensure that the characters are sucked into the story, instead of repelled out of it.

And remember: I'm not saying that anybody needs to start playing this way. I'm just showing an example of another way to prepare games. There's many possible methods and ways to share the different tasks that go to game preparation. Many of them don't suffer from puzzles that stump the game progress.

--
Let me clarify that I'm not saying anything special or new here. This is all stolen from Sorcerer. So no need for newbies to send me adoring PMs ;)


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 26, 2005, 10:15:26 AM
Seraph,

You say OOC is fine. But what you're saying is that it's fine for the players to use. Not for you. Because, as you say earlier, if you use OOC, that's suggesting a move to somebody playing solitaire. So you have this situation where it's OK for the players to "cheat" and ask for help, but you feel it's not OK for you to help them out.

This is gamism support. Wether or not any gamism is occuring is something else entirely. But from what you say, you see helping the PCs out as taking away their opportunity to Step On Up and figure out parts of the scenario themselves.

This is a pretty standard form of play. But it's also pretty broken. Bryan Bankhead wrote a whole essay on why Call of Cthulhu is messed in it's scenarios because they're created this way. The problem is that it's extrememly unsatisfiying to get to a point where you don't know where to go next, because if you don't get help, the game stalls right there. Then there's this uncomfortable moment where the GM fudges something to move things forward (or, more hardcore, you "lose" the scenario).

Anyhow, it's not surprising that players don't know what to say at these points, because if the GM isn't "cheating," well they don't want to "cheat" either. You see what I'm saying? By not participating in the OOC yourself, and thus letting players know that it's OK to do, you create an unintentional barrier to them doing it, too.

I make this mistake all the time in online play. That is, having to run to keep up with the IC stuff, I often neglect the OOC stuff. And even the most OOC oriented players still somehow get moved over to playing more IC. I had one player who said to me, "you're not giving my character a chance to solve her problems." My response was, "Well, you give your character the chance to solve her problems by asking for scenes in which she can do so." The player moved to doing that. But it was my fault that she thought she couldn't do that, as I was projecting a very IC-only sort of vibe by not participating in the OOC banter. It took far too long to find out about a problem that should never have happened in the first place.

It's very easy to fall into the "just describe what's happening" mode of GM play. But it really hurts certain parts of play.

If you want to really create gamism around solving the mystery, do something like this. Tell the players that they get some EXP or other reward, if they figure out what a clue means, or a penalty if they take too long trying. But they can, at any time, forgo the EXP reward, and simply ask for the solution to that part. This incentivizes them to not drag, and they know that if they don't have the solution, they can simply give up and ask for it, so that you can move on to the next solution.

Having a player structure like this is an explicit way to make such play functional. Sans that, or OOC discussion that performs the same function, the "gamism mystery that must reach the end" is broken.

The other option is to go for functional simulationism, and simply tell the players what's going on. In that mode, nobody is playing solitaire, or any other "game." They're building a model, and not giving them the instructions that show how the inside of the model is supposed to look to support it's exterior is setting them up for failure to make a good model. That is, if you all decide to go this way, there's no "cheating" becuase there is no "game." Just collaborative storytelling (to tell the GM's story).

Mike


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 26, 2005, 03:08:08 PM
Wow, that was an information explosion! Before I respond, some housekeeping first:

This thread’s running dangerously close to making me defensive. I appreciate all the advice but how about we stop with the "I'm appalled" kind of language? I'd prefer we looked at this as a group who’s identified an issue and is trying to figure it out (with your help).

We'll hopefully be talking about this face-to-face at our session on Tuesday.

Seraph had a pretty severe dentist appointment last night so I have no idea if he will be responding for a couple of days …

Here's that essay by Bryan Bankhead (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=8482.0).

Right, onwards.  It seems like this thread is producing two strands of information.  The first is advice on how to prepare scenarios so that stall-out time is minimised.* There's lots of good stuff there, and - Seraph, if you want to follow that path either by starting a new thread or PMing Eero, Ron or Mike - I'm sure people here could point you in some interesting directions.

I'd like to keep this thread more focused on the other direction: in character conversations, out of character discussions and the gap between the two. Whether out of character discussions ruin the suspension of disbelief (for any of the players in our group). When is it appropriate to raise a critique of the game (although, Ron, your a-b-c approach probably would've prevented my frustrations from boiling over).

There have been some quotes here that I've found particularly cool …

Quote from: Seraph
Did I explain that the war against the YV had pretty much screwed the rebublic? Corusant was occupied by the YV? New Rebublic forces spread thinly about the galaxy? Perhaps just over a hundred Jedi Knights left, equally spread all over the place?

Quote from: Eero
... What happened here? You talk IC, but try to communicate simple, straightforward story direction through exposing setting. Players take on the difficult task of deducing their route from your IC exposition, and come to some decision. Pretty often that decision is not what would seem logical for the GM, because deducing story direction from IC material is friggin' harder than GMs believe. …

… So that's why Ron gives no weight at all for IC exposition as a technique of story control. It doesn't work. Rather, he (I believe; at least I do) thinks that any important direction will be human-to-human, and any IC stuff will be explicitly subjective story material, to be interpreted freely. Because that what it is, objectively. So when you lay down setting precepts like the above quote, you're talking mood and general style, not some facts that have to be used to solve a puzzle. Or if they are facts that are necessary to solving a puzzle, you will write them down and give them a title: These Are Things You Need To Solve a Puzzle. That way nobody gets confused.**

Mike had a point on a different tangent …

Quote from: Mike
You say OOC is fine. But what you're saying is that it's fine for the players to use. Not for you. Because, as you say earlier, if you use OOC, that's suggesting a move to somebody playing solitaire. So you have this situation where it's OK for the players to "cheat" and ask for help, but you feel it's not OK for you to help them out. ...

... Anyhow, it's not surprising that players don't know what to say at these points, because if the GM isn't "cheating," well they don't want to "cheat" either. You see what I'm saying? By not participating in the OOC yourself, and thus letting players know that it's OK to do, you create an unintentional barrier to them doing it, too.

No idea if that’s what’s happening, but it seems like a pretty reasonable point.

Anyway, this thread is so fascinating that it's distracting me from reaching a deadline.  So, no big posts from me until Tuesday.  I'll keep looking in, make the occasional comment, but I'd love the discussion to continue.

*I'm particularly thinking of Eero's thoughts on traditional adventure design (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16489.msg175889#msg175889) and what to do when the game's out of tracks (starting 3 paras after the quote).

** I'm taking that to mean, for instance, saying “The Jedi are so under-resourced that you will personally have to follow up every lead.”


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2005, 03:22:02 PM
Hello,

Actually, I think this particular thread has reached its endpoint, especially considering its title. So let's close it here and take these new topics to new threads, OK?

Best,
Ron


Title: Re: Star Wars d20: Is this Sim vs. Gamism?
Post by: hix on August 27, 2005, 01:05:54 PM
Good call, Ron.

Just before we do, I’d like to point out an ancestor thread to this one (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=11403.0) that has a lot of good relevant stuff about IC/OOC to consider.

Thread closed.