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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Ron Edwards on April 24, 2001, 06:03:00 PM



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 24, 2001, 06:03:00 PM
Hey there. Whooooo ... I'm getting very nervous, considering what I'm about to say. What follows is the transcript of some dialogue between me and Paul Czege around the turn of the year. It's a bit rambly, like most e-mail discussions, so I'll summarize first:

Paul and I are now thinking that Simulationism is NOT an actual outlook or goal, unlike Narrativism or Gamism. Nor is it a "design dial," as many have suggested.

No, we think that Simulationism is a form of retreat, denial, and defense against the responsibilities of either Gamism or Narrativism. These two outlooks acknowledge, even require Author stance, and they acknowledge the potential of personal failure in role-playing. The Gamist can lose. The Narrativist can look on the results and say, "That story stunk, and it was my fault."

Paul and I have decided to propose that Simulationism consists entirely of a retreat from these dangers. Paul suggests, as you'll see below, that such role-players are proto-Narrativists, whereas I think it's basically a blind retreat with a lot of possible causes.

Anyway, the transcript follows. All comments are welcome.

Best,
Ron
*********

Dec 29-30,2000
[The discussion began with my observation that self-described Simulationists tended to be very defensive about their outlook, unlike the comparatively self-assured or unapologetic demeanors of self-described Gamists or Narrativists.]

Ron says:
For all that Gamists seem like space-aliens to me, I do think they are more up-front and willing to admit or explore their bias than Simulationists are. After all, a Gamist is almost always interested in a new way to compete, unless we're talking about childish little fucks who won't play unless it's 1981 AD&D with their 22nd-level character-alter-ego. Such individuals aside, though, the Gamists I know will say, "Huh, how do you win in this one," or, perhaps, "Let's see how long it takes me to break this one." Most Gamists are willing to check out a new RPG, even a radically new one.

But Simulationists seem committed to the notion of a One True Game and invest it such a thing financially as well as emotionally. It really is a trauma for them to be told, "attributes aren't obligatory." Or, "reward systems should be consistent with Contract elements of character design." So much energy (and their money) has been spent on getting the combat round Just Right, or the point-balance Just Right, or the modifier table for ammunition Just Right ...

Paul says:
Hmm. Hmm. I think Gamists are pretty straight forward, in that what they really
want is the thrill of competition. And when confronted with that observation, they don't really deny it. They consider themselves competitive, enjoy competing with their friends, and they like to win. But I think Simulationists tend to live in a state of denial. Being a Simulationist is like standing half way down a muddy, 45-degree slope. They've taken wargames and added story elements. But where do you draw the line? It's a slide toward Narrativism. And [names deleted] are feeling it. A Gamist will measure a risk in his head, and decide whether to take it or not. But being a Simulationist is more about living in fear. The Simulationist fears favoritism from the GM. A Gamist counts on it, and accounts for it. The Simulationist fears being irrelevantized by actions beyond his control. The Simulationist isn't really competitive at heart the way a Gamist is. I think a Gamist is more comfortable with internalizing a loss based on personal factors than a Simulationist is. A Simulationist likes to analyze away the loss. "Boy, I just never stood a chance after the mountain passes got closed by that early snowfall." A Gamist says, "You bastard!" The Simulationist competes with the system. The Gamist competes with the other gamers. And a Gamist is more comfortable with himself when he fails to recognize and capitalize on an advantage he has. A Simulationist never wants to be in the position of not recognizing the advantages and assets at his disposal. A Simulationist who's being drawn toward Narrativism is in fear of a game that could irrelevantize him in ways beyond his control, but he's already acknowledged that he likes more story elements than he can get in wargames, so he's sliding down a muddy slope and fearing what might happen if he can't hold on.

Ron says:
I agree with you regarding this TYPE of Simulationist, who in many cases is simply sticking with what's known, mastered, and has sucked up $1000 over the years. However, the "real" Simulationist isn't really interested in Narrativism at all - wait a minute. Does this person actually exist? Is it possible that this is just an abstraction, and that Simulationism per se is a historical artifact of the role-playing activity? I'm not willing to write off the "is"-ness of such a prominent and distinct behavior-type so quickly ... but it is also true that most Simulationists I know tend to evolve into either Gamists or Narrativists ...

Paul says:
Exactly what I'm thinking...that Simulationism as we've been talking about it on GO is an abstraction. If a Simulationist role-player's needs are met by board wargames, or miniatures games, then why are they playing RPG's? I think actual Simulationist RPG players have unconsciously realized that they want story elements. They are tainted by that in a way that Gamists are not. And it's a slippery slope for them. Ultimately, they either overcome the fear of their contribution being irrelevantized in the game by plot beyond their control, the fear that the lot-o-rules phenomenon allows them to cope with. And they become Narrativists, or they overcome their need to compete with the system rather than competing with other players and they become Gamists. Or I guess they maintain their difficult position as a dedicated Simulationist by living with a high degree of defensiveness. Either of the two, becoming a Narrativist or becoming a Gamist is dependent on the Simulationist learning to trust the GM. In the case of becoming a Narrativist, the former Simulationist learns to trust that the GM is running a collaborative game that doesn't puppetize the players for his own personal story time. In the case of becoming a Gamist, the former Simulationist learns to trust that the GM in question is a fair and unbiased abiter of the rules. I was going to say that I think probably more become Narrativist than Gamist, simply because by becoming Gamist they throw out the story elements that drew them into Simulationism in the first place, but I actually think it's more dependent on the traits of the GM. If he's running a Gamist game, and he's a fair arbiter of the rules, and the Simulationist can overcome the need to compete with the system rather than the other players, then he becomes a Gamist. If the GM is running a Narrativist game, and he's earns the player's trust by empowering him and not puppetizing the plot, then the Simulationist becomes a Narrativist.

Jan 17-18, 2001
Ron says:
I ran your Simulationism-as-reaction idea past [name deleted] on the phone. He INSTANTLY agreed with you. Interesting, eh? I'm beginning to think you are definitely onto something there.

That would give us Gamism and Narrativism as "real" RPG goals, and Simulationism as a historical, perhaps even regrettable artifact of bad design.

 Paul says:
... Although I'm not sure I'd say it's an artifact of bad design. I think it arises from a player having an interest in story elements (that can't be satisfied by pure simulationist pursuits like Squad Leader),  being frustrated by experiences of GM favoritism and railroading. ...

Ron says:
But don't you think it also applies to frustrated Gamists, who are annoyed at the GM's favoritism and railroading at the expense of valid/enjoyable competition (of whatever sort)?

Paul says:
I think someone with a Gamist bias fights back against favoritism and railroading differently. A Gamist tries to ensure that limitations and control mechanisms are very firmly shackled onto the the other players (and tries to avoid their application to his own actions). It's why Gamists bicker about alignment. They know that their ability to dominate the game is based both on maximizing their own game effectiveness and on crippling the effectiveness of others through control mechanisms. When a Gamist starts to feel like the game is the GM's story time (that it's horribly compromised by railroading and favoritism), the campaign ends, either due to irreconcilable bickering among the group or lack of interest.

Simulationists are in a more difficult position, because they're inherently more interested in story elements. Their embrace of the Simulationist position is their defense against fears of railroading and favoritism. A Gamist will rely on his own wits and metagame skills to combat railroading and favoritism, but a Simulationist relies on the system itself.

[As you can see, the conversation didn't really get to a final conclusion, and my summary at the top is based on phone conversations as well. -RE]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on April 25, 2001, 07:48:00 AM
Quote

For all that Gamists seem like space-aliens to me, I do think they are more up-front and willing to admit or explore their bias than Simulationists are.


Hold on there a minute, Ron. Although I usually agree with just about everything you post, I have to call you on this one. Note that in the first sentence of your e-mail exchange, you commit a major Three-Fold sin: you use the model to classify gamers, not games or design styles.

I would agree that there's no such thing as a "Simulationist," that is, a person interested in RPGs solely to see how realistic of an experience they can have.

There definitely is such as thing as a design goal of Simulationism, though: look at GURPS, for example. Many of the rules--in-depth explanation of semi-automatic vs. automatic gunfire, and different ways of handling damage for different types of ammunition--are incredibly bent on making the game world as realistic as possible. The game's so Simulationist that it breaks when you try to push it to any level above a bit more than human. (Look at GURPS Supers or GURPS Black Ops for great examples of the system breaking.) GDW's old game Twilight: 2000 is another good example of a game with explicit Simulationist design goals.

The question is, given this, why Simulationism as a design goal? If it is not a primary impetus of players, why is it used?


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 25, 2001, 08:02:00 AM
Clinton,

Somewhere, some place along the way, someone got the idea to defend G/N/S against the trolls by saying, "We don't use it to classify actual gamers."

Bullshit. *I* use it to classify gamers. G/N/S is about role-playing DECISIONS and PRIORITIES, and it is expressed in many ways. One of those ways is game design. Another of those ways is via a person's actual role-playing behavior.

This is not to say a person cannot demonstrate more than one of the priorities. However, in my experience, a person WILL tend to emphasize one of them, or have a favorite among the three. At that point, I say, "You are [fill in]."

Now plenty of people are sensitive to this practice, but, bluntly, Tough Shit. Sure, a person might change over time. Sure, they might not be constrained to "their" outlook 100% of the time. I am not claiming that sort of rigidity; it's not like having blue eyes or brown eyes. But the actual classification of the behaviors, especially when they are consistent over time for a person, is valid.

Therefore I make no apologies regarding my points in this thread. Obviously those points don't apply to the (hypothetical) individuals who slip and slide among the three priorities like little pixies. My points DO apply to the many people I have known, seen, communicated with, and role-played with.

I think your definition of a Simulationist is a bit off - a concern with "realism" is a sub-set of Simulationism, not its definition.

Your question about GURPS is an example of switching issues, because you are talking about game design, whereas I'm talking about player behavior. However, the connection between the two might be like this: given that many players DO fit the Simulationist-profile in their buying and playing habits, a game like GURPS is a marketable product (meeting their needs). Or an alternate view, more of a supply-side model, might be that the company designers fit the profile, and then gamers use the Simulationist-style game to learn and develop their own priorities.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-25 12:04 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 25, 2001, 08:18:00 AM
Clinton,

Overall, I'd like to re-state my point, perhaps in a clearer way.

I am stating that there are many people who fit a Simulationist profile. I am also suggesting that such a profile is NOT an actual role-playing priority in the same way that the Narrativist and Gamist profiles are.

Instead, the Simulationist profile (behaviors) represents a retreat from the responsibilities of either Gamism or Narrativism. It's a way to blame any undesirable outcomes on "the game," or to put all responsibility for the quality of the story on the GM, and ultimately, on the game designers (metaplot).

Historically, Paul may be right in suggesting that 80s Simulationism in both play and game design arose from proto-Narrativists rebelling against the responsibilities of Gamism in game design. Now, we might have sort of a reverse thing happening, with 90s Simulationists balking at the responsibilities of full-Narrativist game design.

Best,
Ron


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Paul Czege on April 26, 2001, 05:20:00 PM
Hey Clinton,

Quote
Note that in the first sentence of your e-mail exchange, you commit a major Three-Fold sin: you use the model to classify gamers, not games or design styles.


I personally ranted against Scarlet Jester's "Explorative" term in the "why I can't stand Explorative" thread in Critical Hit on G.O., but not because I think categorization of players is out of scope. My frustration with it was that a term that describes self-reported player feelings is useless as a tool for system design. On that thread I also used a lot of hard and fast language like: "G/N/S is about system design. What that means is game mechanics, not setting, not metaplot."

Am I contradicting that stuff here? I don't think so, but you can be the judge for yourself.

My psychoanalysis of the situation is that people get frustrated with G/N/S, because they feel pigeonholed by it. People want to think they transcend categories, or at least they want to choose their categories themselves. I think it's a fairly common understanding that G/N/S, in addition to being about game mechanics is also about categorizing gamer behavior. And that's what's uncomfortable for people about it. I think the Competitive and Exploratory terms can be even more nakedly about classifying gamers than G/N/S is, and have a lot of resonance for people because they're self-chosen categories (and no one can argue with how you feel). But with G/N/S you categorize a gamer's behavior from an external standpoint, and that's what makes it uncomfortable. And in my personal opinion, that's also the main reason I think M.J. Young's G/N/S test gained both a wide acceptance among G.O. regulars and why it also needs to be changed. The questions are primarily about player feelings and not about behavior.

Paul


[ This Message was edited by: Paul Czege on 2001-04-26 21:31 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 27, 2001, 06:01:00 AM
Paul,

That test is a good topic for a whole 'nother thread. (Is it ever.)

Let's set aside the whole "oooh, don't you pigeonhole me" bullshit for purposes of this discussion. Again: G/N/S classifies observable, distinct behaviors. If a person displays one of those behaviors consistently, then calling him, for instance, a Gamist is only shorthand for saying out the whole phrase.

But let's get to the REAL purposes of discussion. What about the Simulationism?? Can anyone offer an argument to refute Paul's and my conclusion? Or offer support, or corroborative evidence?

"S" remains part of G/N/S - it is indeed a set of demonstrable behaviors, and it is indeed a set of specific RPG design principles which reinforce those behaviors. But it fascinates me that, as Paul has described, it is vastly unlike "G" and "N" because it is founded on FEAR.

Best,
Ron


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mytholder on April 28, 2001, 05:06:00 PM
Ron, you're in danger of being declared a heretic by your own cult. :smile:

Seriously - one of my game styles is to create a set of groups and important characters tied together somehow, then introduce a perturbing factor like the PCs. I have few or no preconcieved notions about what will happen, and game balance didn't enter into the design. I referred to this style on GO as a "living chessboard" campaign, but others compared it to the relationship map concept (which I'm not exactly up to speed on, I admit.)

Anyway, the point remains - I'd consider that style of play simulationist, and it's not founded on fear. It's founded on the desire to find out what would happen, it's a thought experiment.

But what do I know, I'm a pixie.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 28, 2001, 05:26:00 PM
Hi Gareth,

This post of yours is illuminating - because what you've described is flagrant, 100% Narrativism. You are presenting the players with components of a story, and they have "power" to affect the outcomes, and together, you and they create a story *of some kind.* Presuming that everyone involved would prefer it to be a GOOD story, that's Narrativism.

I can't imagine - not in 100 years - how anyone could call what you describe Simulationist, as the term is defined by both Kim, me, or anyone.

I don't know if this applies or not, but some folks have taken "story" to mean "pre-arranged outcome," and objected to Narrativism on that basis. I can only point to its definition and shrug.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-28 21:37 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mytholder on April 28, 2001, 05:59:00 PM
I disagree. Yeah, a story might/will emerge from the interactions of the various groups and characters, but the development and exploration of that story IS NOT THE GOAL OF THE GAME. It's a "what-if" exercise. What if we attack that castle instead of this one, what effect will that have on the war? What if I tell him I know his deep dark secret, how will he deal with that?

If "and together, you and they create a story *of some kind.*" is going to be the definition of narrativism, then gamism is narravisism too. "Bob the fighter and Grimby the mage heroically used their min-maxed stats and feats to wipe out the orc nest." is a story, created by a completely gamist game.

Intent and methods, not end results, are what matters....

*: some of the interactions between groups will result in nothing happening, and that's a perfectly fine result for a simulationist, but a boring narrative...

[ This Message was edited by: Mytholder on 2001-04-28 22:02 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on April 28, 2001, 06:11:00 PM
It's all about characterization.

Narrativism is the only style that requires some kind of characterization (ie: identifying "your guy" as more than a piece on a gameboard).  If you're telling a story, you're dealing with some kind of emotional weight -- from the most in-depth psychodrama to the fluffiest, slam-bam action epic.

Gamism doesn't require characterization.  You have "your guy" and that piece is defined by a bunch of attributes that affect its chances of doing X (where X usually involves separating the vertebral column from the cranium of a green-skinned creature).  

Like Gamism, Simulationism doesn't require any identification or characterization whatsoever.  The character is a puzzle piece that fits into an interlocking whole.  It doesn't matter whether "your guy" is a big piece or a little piece.  It's part of a greater whole that can be modified and shifted around to produce other outcomes.  Simulationist games seem to be designed so that they can play themselves, ya know?


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Logan on April 28, 2001, 08:35:00 PM
I don't think this thread helps the cause. As some here may know, I look to see what's said about the 3-fold model on rpg.net . The 3-fold model doesn't have a very good reputation on rpg.net. It has some vocal and unpleasant critics. Chief among them is S. John Ross. This guy takes every opportunity to inform everyone that the 3-fold model is crap and that it's destructive. For the most part, he gets to poison public opinion about the 3-fold model and very few people step forward to oppose him. His argument is pretty weak. The first part is easy to dismiss. It's pretty obvious that he's uninformed about the more interesting ideas spawned in Ron's work and the 3-fold debates. The second part is also reasonably easy to dismiss. Ideas like G/N/S aren't destructive unless people take them out of context and use them to belittle people's views. I think, to an extent, this thread does that. It's an attack on a whole group of gamers, and I don't like that. It lends credibility to the critics' position and makes the people who develop and support the 3-fold model look bad for no good reason. Even if some of the more inflammatory statements are true, speculating on them only hurts the cause. More to the point, they don't matter.

In my opinion, roleplayers play roleplaying games because they want an interactive source of entertainment which allows them to play characters in an imaginary world and participate in activities which are unusual, dangerous, or impossible in the real world. All roleplayers have this in common regardless of their bias or preferences. But there is a disconnect in the G/N/S paradigm that has become more prominent as the debate developed. The assumption has been that G/N/S describes player bias. We know this because John Kim tells us so, and Ron says that's how he uses it. But that's wrong, especially with respect to Simulationist bias. A player can't play to simulate conditions in the game world. He can only simulate his own character's responses to events. He can only play to see what happens, thus participating in a simulation. But doing either of those things does not necessarily make a player a Simulationist. The same could be said of players who appear to have Gamist and Narrativist bias. G/N/S does not describe player bias, nor should it.

If the 3-fold model is intended as a tool for evaluating and designing games, it makes no sense to use its first tenet to categorize gamers. Even though many gamers have preferences that that could be described as Gamist or Narrativist, G/N/S should not be used to pigeonhole gamers because it doesn't necessarily describe gamer behaviors. What it really describes are primary goals for game design. Let's dissect.

A Gamist game concentrates on the Game aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive for ever-increasing power and abilities, the desire for ever-more loot, and the lust to overcome ever-greater challenges. Of course, a Gamist game may have a story to tie the encounters together and may include mechanics which more or less simulate certain events in the game world. Prime examples: D&D, Shadowrun. Limitations: Characters often become godlings in no time at all. Gameplay may be hurt by separate determination of results and effect (eg separate to-hit and damage rolls).

A Narrativist game concentrates on the Narrative aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive to play interesting characters, the desire to have impact on the game world, and the lust to develop stories which are as satisfying as possible. Of course, a Narrativist game may allow the character to grow in strength over time and allow the player to immerse himself in the gameworld. Prime examples: Extreme Vengeance, Sorcerer. Limitation: Demands considerable effort from the players and GM to work correctly. Blurs the traditional lines between player and GM.

A Simulationist game concentrates on the Simulation aspects of roleplaying. These include the drive to make the world as consistent and believable as possible, the desire to present the world in great detail, and the lust to simulate the outcome of events in the game world as faithfuly as possible. Of course, a Simulationist game may allow players to overcome challenges and participate in the telling of a compelling story. Prime examples: Runequest & all RQ-derived games, including CoC. Limitation: Success in creating a really good simulation may cripple gameplay due to handling time and the sheer number of mechanical steps required to determine what happens in the game. Works just fine for computer games, though.

This causes another glitch. If G/N/S represents designer's goals, then what are the players' goals? I don't have a slick 3-fold answer to that. All I have is a laundry list.
To overcome challenges.
To achieve goals.
To develop characters through play.
To explore the game world.
To see what will happen.
To make things happen.
To gather stuff
To kill things.
To have fun.

I was drawn to the 3-fold model because it was presented as a means for evaluating games and as a tool for designing games. After considerable exploration, debate, and experimentation, I've found this to be true. I don't like the fact that the point and possibilities of the model are often lost because too many people get stuck on the negative aspects of the first tri-fold. It's silly, and I believe it must stop in order for the discussion to move forward.

Next, I want to say a word or two about player preferences. Players may have 2 sets of preferences. One set is stated. The other is observed. A player's stated preferences are the preferences he says he has. A player's observed preferences are those he displays when he's actually playing. Those 2 sets may be different. MJ's test can only tell you about a player's stated preferences. But the player's stated preference is important. It gets him thinking about what he likes and doesn't like in a game. He may wonder why, and this thought can actually make him a better player. How a player feels about things that happen in a game shouldn't be ignored, even if it's not really the province of the 3-fold model.

Finally, it's worth pointing out that even the Scarlet Jester agrees that the description of Simulationism is a valid design goal. His proposed CEN paradigm was an attempt to reconcile the differences between player preference and design bias. My opinion is that player preferences actually have no role to play in the 3-fold model, but I still have to give him credit for seeing the disparity and proposing a solution to it.

That's all for now.

Best,

Logan


[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-08 17:15 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on April 29, 2001, 05:54:00 AM
Hi everyone,

Gareth and I handled some of our dialogue over private e-mail.

Logan,
I have never been sympathetic to the argument that a valid point should not be raised because it hurts people's feelings. I agree with you that a full G/N/S presentation should be constructed with maximum user-friendliness in mind, but I cannot agree that we (here, in this forum) should back off of any topic because it's PR-negative.

Paul and I may not be right in applying this idea to Simulationism as a whole. We may be WAY off-base, or we may have identified the loser-equivalent for Simulationism (corresponding to munchkinism in Gamism, or to scenery-chewing in Narrativism). Working this out through dialogue is absolutely required.

For instance, Gareth's point about HIS group is a single data point. Is his role-playing experience, perhaps the Jester's as well based on previous discussions, a good case that there is a certain fraction of Simulationst play that isn't fear-driven? Or is it totally representative of all Simulationism?

I'm interested in the answers to that. If either is the case, then we've actually HELPED Simulationist-oriented players INTO their "place" in the picture.

As it stands, Gareth's description is a single counter-example, and as such, it has no argumentative power. "Humans are not cannibalistic," is a true statement. Pointing to Jeffrey Dahlmer does not refute the statement. (No valid generalization fails to permit exceptions; if it does, it is bigotry.) I'd like to know whether Gareth's point is valid, and we can't do that without discussion.

Logan: one thing conspicuously missing in your post is Whether You Agree or Disagree with my suggestion in the first post on this thread.

[Added this a bit later]
Also, I wanted to address the issue of what G/N/S is FOR, in terms of use. It can classify game design, and it can identify player/GM activity. I consider both of these uses valid and necessary, and can see no possible problem arising from that double-use. Since games are written and designed by and for role-players, these two "angles" on G/N/S are related, but they aren't the same thing. We have to consider both, I think.

Best,
Ron

[ This Message was edited by: Ron Edwards on 2001-04-29 10:04 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Logan on April 29, 2001, 07:33:00 AM
Ron,

I think you're asking the wrong people to answer your questions. I can't tell you what makes a person say, "I'm a Simulationist." My preferences, stated and observed, are more attuned to Gamist and Narrativist ideals. You should ask people like Mike Holmes and others who claim they are Simulationists. Even Jester is the wrong guy to ask. Although he carries a bright torch for the drama-heavy, deep-immersion style of play favored by John Kim, he admits that the games he plays are more attuned to Narrative goals.

A valid point may hurt peoples feelings, and that's okay. But by your own admission, you don't know that these points are valid. You clearly state that you may be way off base. So you are treating certain gamer viewpoints (and by extension, the players who hold those viewpoints) with contempt for no real gain. You can claim that you don't care about PR and what people think, but you started another thread asking why people have such a strong negative reaction to your ideas. With threads like this, I wonder how you can even ask that. Right now, this site is relatively obscure. Everyone here hopes that will change. When that changes, many people will read these words and form opinions about you and the 3-fold model. I ask you, do you want people to evaluate the constructive value of your many thoughts on game design, or do you want to spend the rest of your gaming life fighting the same stupid battle over the first tri-fold, over and over forever?

I think only a handful of people in the whole world have a reasonably clear picture of your complete model. That's unfortunate, because it's a good model and because all the controversy that surrounds your work is pretty much centered on the equivalent of a controversial book cover. People are so busy arguing about the relative merits of being categorized or fitting in a category that they never bother to find out what else you have to say. The strife obscures the view.

At this point, it's not in anyone's interest for me to agree or disagree with the questions raised in this thread. I have made a stand in public forums which says that the G/N/S tri-fold is a tool for determining the overall bias of a game's design, and that some gamers have preferences which give them a bias or predisposition to enjoy playing some games more than others. If I say a player can be designated a Simulationist (which I don't think is possible because the stated goals of Simulationism are really only attainable at the design and GM levels) and that being a Simulationist embraces a list of preconceived and unflattering notions about the player, then I become a hypocrite. Worse, in that case, many of the worst notions espoused by your critics gain credibility. I won't do that.

At this point, it's not a matter of what I want or even what I think. It's what I've chosen. If your ideas are the center of some sort of cult movement in gaming, then someone has to set the record straight for outsiders. Ideally, that would be you. After all, this is your work. Unfortunately, when the weight of criticism and dissent become too great, you choose not to address that. I've enjoyed and gained from the debate as much as anyone, and I resent the spread of ignorance and lies about the model, its purpose, and its capabilities. I have defended its virtues and gained at least a small measure of respect and acceptance in a hostile environment. It wasn't easy, but I think I will continue to do that. Consequently, I'm not willing to throw away those small gains for nothing. If I've somehow got it wrong, then it would be good for me to know that. Otherwise, I hope you will understand my viewpoint, what I'm trying to tell you, and why I say what I say about it.

Best,

Logan

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-08 17:16 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mytholder on April 29, 2001, 08:28:00 AM
Ron -
yeah, it's one data point. I'd also point to two games I'm fairly familiar with - Blue Planet and Ars Magica - as examples of the same sort of idea or style of play. Neither are gamist, certainly, but they also seem to focus on exploring the ramifications of an idea (the colonisation of an alien planet, the presence of magic in the Middle Ages) rather than exploiting that idea for its story-making potential.

That feels like simulationism to me. At least, it feels like something other than gamism and narrativism to me, but it's motiviated by curiosity, not fear.

As for the whole PR thing - well, most gamers are never going to take gaming seriously enough to even think about G/N/S, or just react with "it's just a game". Others have an intuitive understanding of the situation, and won't see the point of talking about threefold. It's always only going to appeal to those who think about gaming-in-the-abstract.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: GreatWolf on April 30, 2001, 10:58:00 AM
Another game that fits the mold (at least IMHO) is Multiverser.  I own a copy of the game and in my analysis it is less concerned with construction of narrative and more with exploring the ramifications of an idea (e.g. what if you were to begin hopping from one reality to the next).  As Mytholder points out, there is no fear involved (as far as I can tell) but a curiosity and urge to explore.  Evidence for this can be found on the official forum.  Many of the ideas batted about would fall into the "alternate worlds" or "alternate history" categories, which tend to appeal to Simulationists.

So I agree with Mytholder in saying that Simulationism does not have to be motivated by fear or retreat.




Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 08, 2001, 11:46:00 AM
As has already been pointed out (I believe), it's possible to have simulationist based games - just look at GURPS and games such as Harn.

But what about simulationist players? I do have a problem here, as I have very little experience with this type of gamer, most of the people I've played with have been narrativist, or gamist due to an adversarial GM, only to become narrativist when they realised I was not out to get them.

I think I know someone who is close though. This gamer is obsessed with the detail, and everything fitting together logically. He would find it hard to accept a plot that possible pushed the envelope for the sake of a better story. An example would be Star Trek, he hates it when the technology or the accepted universe is not consistent. This is despite the fact that Star Trek is very consistent in the way it tells its stories: it will put simulationism aside for the sake of a good moral tale (and so it should). To him the simulation of a coherent universe is more important than a good story.

The best gaming examples I encounter are the people playing the D20 Star Wars game. A lot of them are obsessed with the internal consistency of the Star War universe, and everything be logical and having its place. This is despite the whole game being a Space Fantasy. If you suggest Star Wars technology just exists to be cool and for story purposes they will write long essays about how it all fits together as if it is a real place with real science behind it. They want consistent names for Imperial vessels and consistent rank insignia for the officers and so on.

I think simulationists do exist as a player type, and I'm not sure they are just scared gamists or narrativists, I just think they do have a whole internal consistency fixation going on.

It's about now I get told I don't know what a simulationist is…



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: greyorm on May 08, 2001, 12:44:00 PM
Paul and I are now thinking that Simulationism is NOT an actual outlook or goal, unlike Narrativism or Gamism. Nor is it a "design dial," as many have suggested.

The Narrativist can look on the results and say, "That story stunk, and it was my fault."

---------

Well, yikes...that's some pretty heavy-handed dismissal of something I think is a valid design dial.
I can honestly say I know games that can't be classified as narratvist or gamist, they only fit into the simulationist category mechanically.  So to dismiss it as a dial seems, to me, shortsighted and flat-out foolish.

As well, the bit about what a narrativist says, what a gamist says is a poor argument, I think, since it is only exploring the attainment aspect of gaming (whether the story or challenge was met), and then saying that the simulationist has no such attainment aspect, or rather that their attainment is always impossible.

The simulationist attainment would be: "That wasn't even close to realistic!  I need to rewrite the mechanics."

As a counter-point to what you've done to the simulationist, I could easily write the narrativist as saying, "That story stunk, and it was my narrator's fault."
The gamist could say, "That wasn't any fun because the rules were weighted!"

Both take blame off their own shoulders within their own tri-fold categories.

---------
But Simulationists seem committed to the notion of a One True Game and invest it such a thing financially as well as emotionally. It really is a trauma for them to be told, "attributes aren't obligatory." Or, "reward systems should be consistent with Contract elements of character design." So much energy (and their money) has been spent on getting the combat round Just Right, or the point-balance Just Right, or the modifier table for ammunition Just Right ...
---------

I do see this in simulationist games...I'm part of a design group that has such individuals in it, and focuses far more on gamist and simulationist games than narrative ones.
Yes, IMO, simulationists are what I would call 'anal retentive' about exacting mechanics and point-cost/balance/yadditty-yadditty...but that's the nature of simulationism, so who am I to complain?

---------
But being a Simulationist is more about living in fear.
---------

Bah!  I say, this sounds like front-porch psychoanalyzation to me.  I have strong simulationist tendencies in my scenario design, though plotting is usually narrative in nature and the exact events are whiddled down by "what is most probable" and "which of those makes the best story."  If the best story were to be made by something that wouldn't be probable, then its rejected.

Narrativism could equally be painted as "living in fear", living in fear that the story wasn't good enough; or gamist that the challenge wasn't interesting enough.

Simulationists aren't living in fear of not being able to do X or Y...they face the same problems as the other points on the model, that is fear about, "How do I reach my goals successfully?"

---------
most Simulationists I know tend to evolve into either Gamists or Narrativists ...
---------

Hrm...do they?  Or is it just that they have strong tendencies one way or another and the way they play the game mixes.  I mean how do you now seperate a simulationist with strong gamist tendencies from a gamist with strong simulationist tendencies?

It seems wrong to me to even start dropping narrow boxes over folks when it is quite obvious that most folks are blurry around the edges.

---------
Simulationist role-player's needs are met by board wargames, or miniatures games, then why are they playing RPG's?
---------

This is where I think it breaks down, at least for me...board and wargames say "gamist" to me, not "simulationist."  Simulationist implies 'virtual reality', trying to see what would happen, not just playing a game (chess, checkers, etc).

How to get from A to C without breaking any logical barriers in the process: that is, get there while avoiding trite feel-good methods (narrative concerns) or by using abstracted results-oriented methods (gamist concerns).

Why?  Concerns for the narrativist are to move the plot in the best way for a story, if they can get from A to B but violate a logical progression, it doesn't matter to them as long as the violation is INTERESTING and FULFILLING.

Concerns for the gamist are to win the scenario using the best combination of rules, if they can get from A to B but do so in such a fashion that the exact nature of the event isn't represented accurately, it doesn't matter to them as long as the violation is PLAYABLE and WINNABLE.

---------
... Although I'm not sure I'd say it's an artifact of bad design. I think it arises from a player having an interest in story elements (that can't be satisfied by pure simulationist pursuits like Squad Leader),  being frustrated by experiences of GM favoritism and railroading...
---------

Well, you might have something here...but only *might*, as the one hard-core simulationist I know is convinced that narrativism is simply railroading and follow-the-leader.

---------
When a Gamist starts to feel like the game is the GM's story time (that it's horribly compromised by railroading and favoritism), the campaign ends, either due to irreconcilable bickering among the group or lack of interest.
---------

I'd say this would make a simulationist, to ensure those shackles are there, making more rules, more realistic rules, that can be more easily used to win on a fair playing field...enough that the GM is shackled by the rules as well, so the gamist becomes a simulationist in mechanical design very easily, though his player goals may still be "win, win, win" or rather "compete".

I wouldn't say they would 'fight back differently'...it seems illogical to me that they would do so.

-Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Blake Hutchins on May 09, 2001, 03:31:00 PM
How would we categorize Pendragon? It strikes me as a heavily simulationist game, but what it tries to simulate is the environment and atmosphere of Morte d'Arthur romance. It's not "realistic," except within the boundaries of its genre, but it does supply substantial detail for rendering the world. Does a Pendragon player forego story, or is he trying to explore the experience of being a knight in a setting of romantic chivalry? I don't see this player as driven by fear. Am I missing something here?



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Blake Hutchins on May 11, 2001, 11:08:00 AM
OK, I've given it some more thought, and I think I may have a better definition of Simulationism that works for me and legitimizes it as a game design and player goal. Forgive me if I'm reinventing the wheel. I've read the variant phylogeny and other threads, but I'm still absorbing some of those thoughts. Still, what I've come up with seems to resolve some key definitions for me, so here it is.

The conflict heretofore in coming up with a neat description of Simulationism stems from the two different types of Simulationist game: (1) the type that tries to model "real world reality" in terms of weapon accuracy, physics, and exhaustively detailed skill systems, and (2) the type that models a particular genre's or literary work's conventions and internal rules. Examples of type one include GURPS and first edition Blue Planet, while Pendragon and Feng Shui offer good examples of type two. Arguably, Amber and Dying Earth also fall into type two, though Amber has strong Gamist elements, and Dying Earth strong Narrativist elements.

What links these categories together isn't character exploration -- it's immersion and the process of play rather than the end goal of a story or a win-loss result. Both types of players want to immerse themselves in an "accurate" environment, whether it be "real" or "genre-conventional." The goal of a Simulationist game is to recreate faithfully a particular environment. Players then move through this environment and explore the consequences of their actions within the setting's rules and conventions. A strongly simulationist player isn't necessarily concerned with character exploration, though such a goal may be a necessary outgrowth of a type 2 environment. Neither is he focused on winning or losing, or even with creating a good story. It's the experience of exploring the recreation -- it's the immersive quality of the environment that motivates the simulationist player. In this context, the E-thing could be a natural progression of a type 2 approach.

Thoughts?

Best,

Blake


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 11, 2001, 11:19:00 AM
I think you've got it, Blake, or - less professorially, "I agree." This has been my take on Simulationism since the beginning.

However, as in the variant phylogeny thread, I think the key definition is operational - the actual relationship between how and when actions are ANNOUNCED by players/GM, and how and when they OCCUR in the game-world. Simulationist play demands a 1:1 correspondence in terms of order and cause.

Best,
Ron


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 23, 2001, 05:33:00 AM
I am a Simulationist. We can debate that point if you like, but it fits me like a glove. I am a Simulationist because that is what i like. That is not debatable; that is how I feel, and nobody will tell me otherwise. I do not fear any sort of role-playing.

There may be individuals who are Simulationists for bad reasons, and there certainly are bad Simulationists. I am not the former, and I hope I am not the latter (although that is a very subjective judgement).

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 23, 2001, 09:08:00 AM
JOoC, what is it about playing/running Simulationist games that appeals to you?  


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 23, 2001, 09:25:00 AM
As Mytholder points out, there is no fear involved (as far as I can tell) but a curiosity and urge to explore.

To me, Simulationism by its very nature has a very scientific feel to it.  Which makes sense, I suppose.  The One True System would be akin to the Unified Field Theory (I think?  Not a science goon).  And it's telling that Simulationist games seem to be enjoyed/written/run by people in that mindset.  Jeff Barber is professor.  MJ Young has a law degree or something (rules lawyer!  hah!).  People like Josh Neff and Pete Seckler, just through online convos (well, I know Pete a bit in RL), strike me as being very artistic people (Pete is an artist, Josh is obviously interested in some wild literary material) -- it doesn't surprise me that they're interested mostly in Narrativist systems.




Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 23, 2001, 10:43:00 AM
And I am a programmer/analyst who specializes in developing systems for calculating and reporting statistics. And I love my job. I am also a board and wargamer. I play stuff like Advanced Squad Leader and Starfleet Battles all the time. The more complicated the better. I design games like this as well and my friends have said of me that "Mike's never met a game he couldn't make into a complex RPG". Yep, a real mutant. I love math. My wife is a math major, in fact and we talk math all the time (although she blows me out of the water as far as knowledge). You might in the end find me not to be as dry as I sound, I have plenty of other interests as well. But, all in all, I think that I fit an Simulationist personality profile to a T.

What do I like about Simulationism? Well, what do people like about flight sims? You get to do (simulate doing) something that you otherwise can't do. Is there combat in the sim? Then you get to experience a little of what that might be like and not get killed. It's exactly as Greywolf put it, I want to live another life. It's not that I don't like my life, but why not live several others as well.

On top of this (and this'll see, very wierd to you, maybe) I like to simulate my character; y'know, role-play? I have fun acting the role as I interperet it. For the audience and myself. To this extent I usually try to play something out there to see if I can pull it off at all. I know that this is an odd concept to you, Jared, but the challenge of trying to play a hiver from Traveller is to me compelling. Even if others think I've failed miserably, it's still fun to me (and There'll probably be some laughs in there as well).

As a GM I am very much a setting guy. I write a new complete fantasy world every couple of years, and ususally have several other ideas going at once. By setting I also mean modern settings that are alternate Earths, and all sorts of other stuff. One of my favorite settings I call Vector and is very similar to a more serious sort of Gigantocorp orbiting Earth (wrote it about fifteen years ago, so you can't sue me, Jared).

I don't do premise as well. I tend to just give a group a reason for being a group and let them go and find their own adventure. Since the characters all have their own personalities and goals, they usually get themselves into plently of trouble without much prodding.

"What's that? A thirty foot tall batwinged gorilla that turn a person to glass with its icy breath? And it's been awakened after hundreds of years of imprisonment? Let's go get it!"

That's not a very deep plot, but things got much more interesting when people determined that the glass statues that the characters were selling were actually cursed folks.

I've used this anecdote before, too, but it illustrates things well. I had another player who I was pretty sure was a Simulationist, but this nailed it down. His character was in a situation where he might notice a dangerous enemy approaching. I asked him to make a roll and he failed. He said that his character was going to start looking around carefully. I asked him why his character would do that given that he was unaware of anything odd going on and he replied that if that was the case that I should be making the perception die rolls for him. It turns out that he didn't want to know anything that his character didn't know (within preventable reason). A gamist would have wanted to keep the roll so that he could use it to his advantage. A Narrativist would have just used the OOC knowledge to make the story better. But he wanted to experience what his character experienced as closely as possible. Seeing the per die roll ruined the experience for him. I understood.

Does any of the above give you any hint as to why I like Simulationism? As a narrativist I don't expect you to sympathize, but can you see where others might find this fun? As Seth said it's escapism. But it's better than daydreaming, because it's social and interactive. Neat stuff.

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Zak Arntson on May 23, 2001, 12:26:00 PM
I can easily see the love for Simulationism.  While video games do a great job of this (I think Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper is one of the best games of All Time), there is something to be said about sitting around a table with a bunch of friends.  Much more social than a video game.

As a "zen" programmer I personally lead towards Narrativism, but the thought of simulating an environment or a character holds appeal (in most cases, though, I think that more rules equates to better simulation, which I believe is not always the case).

I have a game brewing in my head where the players are all Machines who have something wrong (meaning, self-awareness/ambition).  It is simulationist, in that the players are supposed to really get into the role of a robot.  But it is rules-light to allow for simulation of the Machines without gory detail.

Example: Stats are 00, 01, 10, or 11.  Your Manipulation stat is 10.  You can ALWAYS Manipulate better than a 01 or 00 stat.  If the scores are the same, a roll is made.  Simple.  But the game lends itself to a Simulation mindset: "I am a Machine programmed for THIS function (which will cause me to lose my freedom) while trying to retain my individuality.  How can I go about this given my limitations?".

I'll post this (when I get my rpg site up) for what I believe to be a rules-light Simulationist game.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Poxface on May 23, 2001, 12:34:00 PM
  Prior to being introduced to the 3-fold model, I and my gamming buddies classified gamers into two types:  Goal-oriented and Process-Oriented.  
  Goal-oriented gamers are what you are placing on the gamest axis.  For them, the game is about meeting goals.  If they are a good sport, they play to win sure, but competition is king.  
  Process-oriented games like just playing within the system constraints.  Competition isn’t important, story isn’t important, just the act of rolling dice within the constraints of system is important.  
  I think the difficulty you might be having with the simulationist axis is this concept of process.  Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that all simulationists are process oriented – I’m certainly not. (I’m more of an immersion/exploration type of simulationist.) But I have gamed with a large number of process-oriented gamers.

I think that trying to base gamer motivations on things like fear is a little off-base.  


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 23, 2001, 12:49:00 PM
No one is on trial in this thread.

NO one ... is on TRIAL ... IN THIS THREAD.

The issue is whether Simulationist leanings, for players and GMs (as opposed to game design), are reactive toward the requirements of Narrativist or Gamist play.

The real issue is whether this is a valid generalization. That's a very important concept: a VALID GENERALIZATION. Such a thing accounts for most of the variation we see in whatever phenomenon we're talking about. That's what it does, no more and no less.

Therefore, I believe Mike without qualm when he says, "Your description does not describe me." However, that fact is not relevant. Valid generalizations admit exceptions.

Poxface (Jeff, right?) presents the Process/Goal axis, and identifies Simulationism as Process-oriented. That's fine. It does not, however, address the issue I brought up.

No one is being insulted. No one is being smeared. No one is being called anything. The question is whether my first post in this thread is a valid generalization.

No one, frankly, has really met that question head-on.

Best,
Ron


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Poxface on May 23, 2001, 03:19:00 PM
   I was not taking your comments personally – just could not grok what fear had to do with gamming.  In a discussion of  narrativism and gamism, you will notice that both are driven to some extent by conflict [and by conflict I mean competing goals, not necessarily violence].  Gamism almost by definition implies direct conflict.  For a narrative to be successful, it must have conflict – conflict drives story and creates drama.  However, in simulationist play conflict is unnecessary.
   I would say I lean toward simulationist play – I am a problem solver by nature.  I like to jump into an environment and see what I can do.  When it comes to game play I am also a risk taker – which I don’t often do in the “real world”.  I take the risks just to see the outcome.  I prefer to make the risks a worthwhile part of the story (i.e. the game also has to be fun for everyone else).  But it is an exploration of the character in the setting that is my primary goal.
   I should also point out that I do play board games such as ASL and SFB.  I play to win and I enjoy the competition and camaraderie from such experiences – you will also note that both games are detailed simulations of their respective environments.
   But to reiterate, the goal of simulation is to answer the question “What if ….” I really don’t see this as “a form of retreat, denial, or defense against the responsibilities of either Gamism or Narrativism.”  What you might get me to buy is that without an element of gamism or narrativism, pure simulationist games would be, well, dull.  But the same argument could be made for any pure g/n game.

Jeff


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Logan on May 24, 2001, 03:32:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-05-23 16:49, Ron Edwards wrote:
The issue is whether Simulationist leanings, for players and GMs (as opposed to game design), are reactive toward the requirements of Narrativist or Gamist play.


At this point in time, I do not believe your generalization is valid. My research and experience leads me to believe that completely pure players (players who completely epitomize one of the 3 axes with no real influence form either of the others) are few and far between. This is why I say that bias is a matter of emphasis, not a choose-one, winner-take-all proposition.

The Simulationist player, as near as I can tell, places emphasis on the credibility of events in the game and on the presentation of character true to that character's known outlook and beliefs. This is not a reaction against aspects of Gamism or Narrativism. It's simply a singularly different approach to play.

I think maybe the key to it is in the approach to portrayal of character.

The Gamist often looks at the character's personality in terms of advantages which can be exploited. The player makes decisions which are best for him with respect to making progress, earning experience, or emerging victorious in the game.

The Simulationist often looks at the character's personality as a basis for making decisions in the game. The player portrays the character true to the character's known outlook and personality. If that means making decisions which hurt the character, the group, or the story, this is acceptable because it's what the character would most likely do in that situation.

The Narrativist often looks at the character's personality as a basis for creating story and adding subplots. The player wants to make sure the character has impact in the game world and that the character's actions play well in the story. The player will make decisions which result in defeat or are somewhat out of character if it makes for a much better story. The player will also happily invent some previously unknown motivation to justify the unexpected turn of events.

Best,

Logan

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-24 07:33 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 06:50:00 AM
Am I right in saying that what you mean Ron is that there are people who play different styles of play than they really should because they have fears about bad experiences that they've had with those styles? I understand that you were specifically referring to Simulationists, but this is a general principle that can be extended to all three styles, I think.

I usually state that I am a Simulationist to champion the cause, and because I prefer Simulationism more often than not. But I like to other styles as well, really. So, yes, while I may not be an example of this problem, per se, there are certainly people who have this problem. They are usually most easily identified by irrational railing against a particular style. "Stupid Munchkin Gamists!" is possibly the cry of somebody who has had bad experiences with Gamist games. "Rules-Lawyering Simulationists" and "Effete Story-pushers" cries my indicate having the same problem with Simulationism and Narrativism respectively.

Can G/N/S help these people understand that they might like these forms if they were to find a good example. Absolutely. But I think that these problems exist in all three Styles. It may be more useful to look at helping people realign their dysfunctional gaming style stances rather than looking for particular causes. The causes are likely mutitudinous.

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 24, 2001, 08:10:00 AM
Mike,

"Am I right in saying that what you mean Ron is that there are people who play different styles of play than they really should because they have fears about bad experiences that they've had with those styles? I understand that you were specifically referring to Simulationists, but this is a general principle that can be extended to all three styles, I think."

Yes and no. My original proposal was that Simulationist priorities are DEFINED by a reaction to the other two priorities, in a way that a preference for the other two priorities are not. Therefore Simulationism would be described as essentially an "absence" of the other two, which then gets its own identity via the specific design mechanisms and decisions of that absence.

To repeat: this was a proposal, not a conclusion. I am not convinced about it as a valid generalization, although I *am* convinced that it applies in individual cases I am familiar with.

On the other hand, your re-statement of the matter is certainly valid on its own. Given a stinky experience with a given bias/goal of play, anyone can reasonably be expected to shy away from it. That's why I think we could do well to examine POOR and DYSFUNCTIONAL versions of each goal as well.

Best,
Ron


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 09:02:00 AM
Ok, I've read through this thread a couple of times now to make sure I was following it.  I gotta say.  I think the idea that Simulationism is based on fear is way off the deep end.  I was actually rather shocked to even see it because good talking points aside it is exactly the kind of holier than though attitude that gives the model a bad name.

Personally I think that a lot of the problem and apparent lack of fit between simulationist and the other styles are because the category itself is just plain mislabeled and misunderstood.

I think alot of the work that has gone into establishing the model has been done by people who don't fully understand that leg of the triad, and this has led to some assumptions and conclusions that just aren't accurate.

Jester has been pushing his Explorative style as a substitute for Simulation for awhile now.  I was at first hesitant, because it seemed a little like change for the sake of change.  But like I've said in the GO Sorceror forum several times, what is right and wrong for the model depends on what terms and categories are the most useable and useful tools for evaluation.

After several weeks of email with SJ et.al.  I'm now convinced that Explorative is not just better, but a vastly better term to use than Simulationist.  The model that we've been working on actually includes sub categories (so far for Gamist and Explorative only) that help better define the motivations behind the style as well as determining the type of reward system most appropriate.

For Explorative these include Character, Setting, and Situation.  It should be immediately obvious the improved utility these terms have over mere "Simulationist" a term few people understand, and most "laypersons" confuse with over complicated realism.

Someone asked here what type of game Pendragon was, on the one hand its a Simulation, but its certainly not very similiar to most other games that would be called Simulations.

Pendragon is in fact an game about Exploration of Setting.  A far more accurate, compelling, and useful terminology.  Why is it more useful?  I offer the following.  Even Mike Holmes, the self professed "Simulationist" has offered examples which Ron has suggested are Narrative in nature.  In fact, I believe Mike's examples are clearly Explorative.  Exploring the possibilities of "what if".  Also differentiating between Games that Explore Character (which is the category I'd firmly place Sorceror in) and games that Explore Setting allow designers to really fine tune the reward system (or what Jester calls the games "currency").


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 10:15:00 AM
I agree with Jester's descriptions, they very much describe exactly why I (and my ilk, if I might speak for them for the moment) play RPGs. But I find the reason for changing the term interesting. It seems to me that the idea is that since Simulationist has lots of baggage, use a different term and the baggage will be lost. I understand the motive, but isn't there another way to get the constructive message across other than change the term? The problem with changing the term is that if we do so it'll set a prescedent to change terms every time we want to clarify a definition.

This, of course, would only lead to confusion. I'd only support a term change if it becomes obvious over time that it was really a new thing. Otherwise Simulationist should suffice, IMHO. Ironically, the difference between Setting Exploratory and Character Exploratory seems very similar to the current talk about old Simulationism and E-thing (you're right Ron, gotta write that down; damn those Finns for being so innovative).

Mike Holmes

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-05-24 14:20 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 11:29:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-05-24 14:15, Mike Holmes wrote:
But I find the reason for changing the term interesting. It seems to me that the idea is that since Simulationist has lots of baggage, use a different term and the baggage will be lost.



I don't feel this is the motivation at all, rather it is just a fringe benefit.  Earlier on this thread Feng Shui was brought up as an example of a Simulationist game.  Ian than asked how Feng Shui could be Simulationist because he always thought that meant hyper realistic.  When the explaination that Simulation does not equal Realism has to be given a zillion times, and every new person who sees the model says "I'm not a simulationist because I hate cludgy games with a ton of charts and stuff", maybe its time to acknowledge that the world "Simulation" already has a definition that is far more entrenched than the definition being used in the model.  It doesn't help the spread of the model's acceptance to have most new people dismiss it as obviously wrong, simply because they don't understand the terms being used.

But like I said thats just a fringe benefit.  The real motivation is that Explorative is just a far more precise term.  Even people who ought to know better get confused with what Simulation means.  Role Master is frequently offered up as an example of a Simulation, as is GURPS.  But are they really?  What does Role Master simulate?  Certainly not realistic medieval combat..."Life in a Fantasy World"?  Heck if ones definition of Simulation is that broad EVERY game is a Simulation.  Sorceror is a Simulation of man's interaction with demons.  D&D is a Simulation of kicking down doors, killing stuff, and taking their treasure, Puppet Master is a Simulation of the life and times of being a puppet.  Obviously the definition of Simulation must be more narrowly defined than that...but what is it?  What is it really?

I think part of Ron's trouble with the term in this thread is a result of this vaguary.  One can come up with a clear definition of what makes a game Gamist.  One can come up with a clear definition of what makes a game Narrativist.  I've yet to see a clear unambiguous definition on what makes a game Simulationist.  Its almost become a catch-all for games that don't qualify for the other two.

On the other hand, Explorative has a very clear easy to understand definition.  It become possible to rule a game (or even easier, a player) as Explorative on their own merits.  Calling Pendragon a Simulation was forcing a round peg into a square hole.  Calling it an Exploration of Setting/Genre is much better fit.  I can't think of any game that's been offered up as being Simulationist that wouldn't as well or better fit as a Gamist or Explorative game.

That frees up the term Simulationist to be used the way the term has been used for years.  Every grognard knows that if a wargame has been proclaimed a "great simulation" that that means it is a realistic depiction of the events being  portrayed.  Every PC gamer knows that the difference between an "arcade" racing or flight game and a "simulation" racing or flight game is that the simulation is super realistic while the arcade game is not.

Perhaps its time for those of us who love this model and understand how powerfully useful a tool it is to change to 1) a far more precise term, and 2) stop trying to usurp a term that already has a well entrenched meaning.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Logan on May 24, 2001, 01:42:00 PM
Valamir,

As far as design considerations go, I think Simulationist is the right term. On the player-behavior side, Explorist (Explorationist, Explorativist, Exploration-oriented... Too many syllables, but whatever you like that includes _Explor_) *might* be the better term. But it might not. The basis of Jester's argument has been that Simulationist players play to experience activities from a different perspective or to just have new experiences. While I think this is certainly part of the lure for many players (regardless of overall G/N/S bias), it's not the only lure. It's also not the only basis for the definition.

I really do think a lot of player bias and player behavior is tied to the player's approach to portraying the character. If a player really tries to "get into the character's head" and have the character do what the character would do in that situation as the primary goal, it's a simulation of that character. This is what the Elaytijists do. It seems to me that they're not really so interested in the experience as they are in simulating the character and helping the GM realize his goal for the game. It says so right in their credo.

To address a few specific points...

I think Rolemaster is a Simulationist game. Its mechanics are primarily directed toward simulating what would happen in their fantasy world. But, as has been mentioned in other places, the approach (with its apparent level of detail and its emphasis on letting actions turn out as they will) makes it an inviting platform for Gamist players who want to play in what is ultimately a "Fair" environment. Jester and I were talking about this by e-mail just the other day. He noted that players in Rolemaster act just like characters in D&D. It's a curious thing, but there it is.

GURPS, in my opinion, with its point-balancing and complicated design systems, is a Simulationist game with strong Gamist undercurrents. It does what it's supposed to do, but its emphasis is a little more diluted than some other games. Basically, Steve Jackson and company recognized what people saw in Simulationist games of the time and made their own system to do it "their way." Love it or hate it, seems to me their effort succeeded.

Now, D&D is an entirely different proposition. Because of the way the mechanics are defined, it really doesn't simulate anything, and it can't simulate anything unless someone goes through and rewrites the game to make it do that.

Sorcerer, for its part, may appear to provide something approaching a simulation of possible interactions between man and demon, but it's pretty obvious from the way the game is presented that any simulation is strictly a coincidence.

Now, about the middle of next week, we'll have an updated faq. I'm not incorporating the term Explorationist in the document, but I will note that this is part of the debate that's brewing. I suggest that everybody who wants to should put in their 2 cents on it. At some point, either we'll arrive at an accord or we should vote to see if there's enough support to make the change.

Best,

Logan


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 03:38:00 PM
Val,

Rolemaster has a lot of gamist elements as it is an attempt to "fix" D&D. But what is wrong with D&D that needs fixing? Well, to the designers, it wasn't simulationist enough (not that they had that term, but that was the idea). Did they succeed in making a Simulationist game out of D&D. Not very well. So in a way it is like Vampire's Narrativist intent. They want to be narrative, but, by incorporating mechanics from games that are not, they fail.

GURPS is an interesting case. As I've been advocating lately, it becomes a whole lot less gamist if you just don't use the point system as designed. Otherwise it's very simulationist (Roll to see if your pick is stuck in your opponent! actual rule). : - ) Remember, that these games were constructed without the benefit of G/N/S. So it's a bit more understandable if they mixed their system mechanics up between styles.

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 05:45:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-24 17:42, Logan wrote:
I think Rolemaster is a Simulationist game. Its mechanics are primarily directed toward simulating what would happen in their fantasy world.

GURPS, in my opinion, with its point-balancing and complicated design systems, is a Simulationist game with strong Gamist undercurrents.

Sorcerer, for its part, may appear to provide something approaching a simulation of possible interactions between man and demon, but it's pretty obvious from the way the game is presented that any simulation is strictly a coincidence.


I've excerpted the above because you've unintentionally exactly illustrated the problems I was outlining with the term simulationist.

First examine your description of Rolemaster.  Rolemaster is a simulationist game because it simulates the Rolemaster world?  The statement is totally circular.  Thats what I mean when I say that there has yet to be a clear and unambiguous definition of what traits a game has to have to call it Simulationist.  Everyone has this gut feel that says "I'm pretty sure that would be a simulationist game"  but there are no rules to identify one other than the consensus of gut feelings.

In your GURPs point you fall prey to the oft repeated mistake of equating complicated rules with Simulationist.  In other words we (all of us) fall back on the ORIGINAL use of the word simulation which in which enhanced degrees of simulation equate to additional pages of rules and modifiers in a wargame, or the necessity to have a keyboard map guide in a PC game.  Time and time again we hear the *words* that Simulationist doesn't mean complicated, yet time and time again its always the rules heavy complicated games that get the label.  Why?  Because even those of us who've followed the GNS discussions deep down still fall back on what the historical use of the word simulation means.

In your Sorcerer point you again illustrate the problem with the incredible vaguary of the defintion.  Unlike the the other two categories Simulationist seems to be wholely subjective.  Rolemaster is simulationist because it simulates a bunch of stuff.  But Sorcerer is not, because even though it simulates a bunch of stuff you get a different feel for what the game is about.  The distinction is purely a subjective one.

This leaves simulationist as the catch-all name for left over games.  First Pass: "is it gamist"..."no".  Second Pass: "is it narrativist"..."no"..."ok than it must be simulationist".  Since Sorcerer falls into the Narrativist bucket we don't concern ourselves over whether or not its "Simulation of character" qualities should make it a simulationist game.  Since Rolemaster didn't fall into either of the first two buckets it has no where else to go so its "simulation of setting" qualities are cited after the fact as being the reason its a simulation.

Is it any wonder that Simulationist seems to be the odd man out of the triad.  Its a category with no clear identity of its own.

By my way of thinking, a model is "good or bad" based on how useful a tool it is at analysing something...in this case the nature of game playing and game design.  The term simulationist is not useful.  Unlike "Gamist" and "Narrativist", it doesn't offer any insight into the mentality of gamers or methods of game design that can be used to appeal to those.  The category as it stands includes games so radically different as RuneQuest and Pendragon.  There isn't enough commonality there to draw any conclusions whatsoever.

I think the model has gotten this far using the term because the concentration of effort has been by narrativist gamers defining what makes a narrativist game different from a gamist game.  Everyone has this gut feel that know what a simulationist game is ("I may not be able to define it, but I know it when I see it") so it hasn't been put through the same scrutiny.  My own early exposure to the model was the same.  I was just discovering what this whole narrativist thing was about and my own interest in the model was primarily in trying to understand the difference between narrativist and gamist.

But if you step back and look at it...simulationist just doesn't work.  Its a word that already has a prior definition that is in conflict with the model.  Its a word with no clear definition of what the category is supposed to represent, and its a word that offers no ability to judge the suitability of a particular game design for a particular group of players.

In my oppinion, Simulationist or non Simulationist is a method of approaching a game independent of its style.  In other words, I believe it should be a seperate axis of the model all together.  D&D is a Gamist game with abstract mechanics.  Rolemaster is a Gamist game with Simulationist mechanics.  Pendragon is an Explorative game with abstract mechanics.  RuneQuest is an Explorative game with Simulationist mechanics.  I suspect it may even be possible to have a narrativist game with simulationist mechanics, but I don't really know what that might look like.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 05:48:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-24 19:38, Mike Holmes wrote:
Val,

Rolemaster has a lot of gamist elements as it is an attempt to "fix" D&D. But what is wrong with D&D that needs fixing? Well, to the designers, it wasn't simulationist enough (not that they had that term, but that was the idea).


Exactly.  To my mind they are BOTH gamist games.  D&D is a gamist game with abstract mechanics and Rolemaster is a gamist game with simulationist mechanics.

I'm not saying the desire for a simulation doesn't exist.  I'm saying it exists independently of the three fold model.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mytholder on May 25, 2001, 04:45:00 AM
Valamir - I'll do a long reply this evening after work if I can, but I'm off to a con for the weekend, so I mightn't squeeze it in. For the moment, I'll just give a short reply.

Simulationism/Exploration/the e-thing/the third leg of threefold does exist.

Rolemaster is simulationist. So's GURPS. Sorcerer isn't.

All three simulate something, but that doesn't mean they're all simulationist. After all, all three are games, but they're not all gamist, and all three create stories, but they're not all narrativist.

It's intent that matters. Gamist games should provide challenge above all else. Narrativist games should provide a good story above all else. And Simulationist games should be an accurate and consistant model of their world above all else.

If Sorcerer succeeds at "simulating a bunch of stuff" then that's cool, but it's not important to the success or failure of the game. The intent was to create a good story. It doesn't matter if, say, the result of a fight described in the story was completely impossible given the combatants and equipment present, as long as it makes story sense.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 25, 2001, 06:45:00 AM
I hope you can Myth, cause I gotta tell you, I ain't buyin it from this post.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck...its a duck.

The problem I've having is that its FAR too subjective.  To me intent is not the deciding factor, execution is.  Intent is useful in evaluating a game's design success...a design is good if its execution matches its intent.  But Intent cannot be the primary decision rule, because if it was Vampire would be the yardstick for narrativism.  Its not because the Story Telling system failed to execute on that intent.  Execution then should be the rule.

And how is the telling of stories the primary goal of Sorcerer?  Most of Ron's requests for Sorcerer material concentrates on defining Humanity loss and the nature of demons.  That seems a very simulationist concentration to me.  In fact, I would suggest the primary strength of Sorcerer lies in getting inside the head of a Sorcerer character and asking the difficult questions about the nature of humanity and sacrifices made for power.  In fact, these are the same themes that Vampire was originally supposed to be about before it got taken over by listless goths and undead munchkins.  Calling one a simulation and the other narrative is a purely subjective differentiation.
I don't recall any plot point mechanics like theatrix or retroactive resolution descriptions like in Story Engine.

Now I know that an awful lot of statements have been made by present company that the GNS model isn't an elitist attempt to promote Narrativism as the best way of roleplaying.  But I also know that a lot of people don't believe that, and I've a growing sense of why GNS strikes so many people as elitist snobbery.  I'm sure its unintentional, but the sentiment is there nonetheless.

Its inherent in statements like "Narrativist games should provide a good story above all else", the perceived implication being that other games aren't concerned with good stories.  I see whispers of it in the Alternate Phylogeny thread.  Paul presented a pretty fascinating theory incorporating Turku as an evolution from Simulation placing as the equivent of Narrativism on the evolutionary chart.  Rather than dig deeply into this idea and explore it thoroughly to determine what insights it has to offer, it was dismissed rather cavalierly.  It wasn't stated explicitly, and I certainly won't claim to know what vaious motivations were, but to an outside observer reading the thread for the first time I can tell you what it looked like.  It LOOKED like "how dare you suggest the Turkus are on par with narrativists, they're not, they're just some subset of simulation, and while this discussion is interesting we don't need to continue it because GNS is robust enough as is to not need further development".

Now OBVIOUSLY that wasn't the intent.  I offer it not as criticism, but to point out where some of these accusations come from.  If I, who am a big fan of the model and am thoroughly indebted to Ron for introducing me to it can sense it, what must the gaming public at large detect about it.

I think if we want the model to become more widespread than just a handful of enlightened we need to be very sensitive to things like this.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 25, 2001, 07:48:00 AM
Heretic!

You realize that you've just claimed that Ron's baby is a bastard? : - )

The way G/N/S is defined is as it applies to the system. What does the system promote? Ron's system promotes storytelling through it's resolution in the middle mechanics, for example. The fact that he's collecting source material for it in no way makes the game more about simulation. The mechanics won't allow for a simulation due to how they're laid out. Don't believe me, go back and read them.

It is you who has the problem with the definition. Others probably do as well, but that isn't necessary. If you read it, you'll find it is very easy to apply. And Ron has gone out of his way to make it even more specific of late. Intentional misunderstanding of the definition to make your point is not good sportsmanship.

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 25, 2001, 08:33:00 AM
I assure you I have no desire to intentionally misrepresent anything.  Perhaps I have missed some clarification of definition.

As I understand it Ron's definition of Simulation is:
1) no author stance.
2) chronological cause and effect of actions.

Now there are two issues here, how a game is played and what its design mechanics encourage.

Any game that does not specifically include mechanics that require author stance or directoral power can be played in pure Actor mode.  You can play D&D as an Actor or you can use OOC information to your competitive advantage.  Its a matter of play group preference.  Other than a paragraph in the "what is roleplaying" section most games offer no specific mechanical encouragement or prohibition to either stance.

Therefor I contend that "No Author Stance" is an attitude of the players.  NOT a component of game design.  To me admonishment from the author about "staying in character" etc. is not suitable grounds for categorization. 1) such admonishments are even easier to ignore than creating house rules, 2) most of those introductory sections are the usual babble repeated virtually verbatim from one author to the next. Presence of such text is hardly a definitive indication that the author really considered that important or was merely including the usual boiler plate language.  3) most of those types of games were written long before any concrete analysis of game design philosophy or stance were written.  It is unclear if many of those authors even realized at the time there was another way to play.
     Therefor, unless a game specifically includes a mechanic in its game system which specifically mandates Authorial / Directoral (like say Elfs), or specifically includes mechanics which prohibit this, part one of the "definition" is purely subjective.  In the absense of such a mechanic whether or not a particular game is played with or without a particular stance is entirely a function of the game group's style of play not the game.  As I've said its the Execution that matters, not the Intent, especially when (as I mention above) that intent may in fact be wholly inadvertant.
       Now I may be wrong, and if I am please correct me.  But I don't recall the presence of a game mechanic in Sorcerer that requires Author stance.  Barring such a mechanic the game COULD be played Actor stance only, thereby meeting the first requirement for a simulation.  My point here is that the use or lack of use of Author stance is a good criteria to describe a PLAYER or a PLAYING STYLE.  Its NOT a very useful criteria for determining the nature of a specific game.  Its too subjective...and by that I mean it can be categorized one way or the other based on the categorizer's belief as to the most "correct" or common way to play is.


2) Chronological cause and effect of actions.  The vast majority of games ever written meet this criteria.  Only a select few like Story Engine and Hero Wars allow for effects whose cause is entirely undefined until after the fact.  Some games may be in wargamer parlance "Design for Effect" which generally means alot of the complex chain of events is abstracted out (like D&D HPs and AC), while other games might be "Design for Cause" where every step is mapped out with scientific rigor (like Phoenix Command), but almost all have a definite cause and effect relationship.  Now, again I may be wrong, but I seem to remember Sorcerer's combat rules being a fairly involved process of damage and wound effects which strike me as meeting the second criteria for a simulation.

My point here is not to illustrate anything good or bad about Sorcerer, but merely how the definition of Simulation in this context is largely dependent on the perceptions of the individual doing the categorization and thus, too subjective in my oppinion to be effective.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 25, 2001, 08:37:00 AM
I don't mean to be flip, and I'm not denying that there is misunderstanding. But I'd say that while Simulationist might be more problematic than the other definitions in defining a design goal, they all occasionally suffer from debate over which is more what. This won't be solved by Explorationist. This is an argument more for pitching the whole model than any one spoke.

In fact, I believe that this "new" style is being proposed more as a style of play than a design goal. So could it be that we're comparing apples to oranges all along? IIRC, Ron has stated that his model is only pertinent in the context of it being about design.  If you are considering it from the POV of playing styles, maybe it should be be GED or Gamist, Explorationist, and Dramatist. After all Ron only changed Dramatist to Narrativist when he considered the model in the light of it being about design; all in the context of "System Does Matter".

A lot of IIRC, here, as well as IMHO.

Mike Holmes


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Paul Czege on May 25, 2001, 08:49:00 AM
I don't recall the presence of a game mechanic in Sorcerer that requires Author stance.

When a sorcerer character decides to contact and summon a demon, the player invents the demon's stats and selects and customizes the demon's powers. The GM is free to change what the player comes up with, either completely or partially, but I think it's still player Author stance.

Paul


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 25, 2001, 08:57:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-05-25 12:49, Paul Czege wrote:
I don't recall the presence of a game mechanic in Sorcerer that requires Author stance.

When a sorcerer character decides to contact and summon a demon, the player invents the demon's stats and selects and customizes the demon's powers. The GM is free to change what the player comes up with, either completely or partially, but I think it's still player Author stance.

Paul


I wouldn't say that.  It doesn't seem anything more than a shortcut to me.  i.e. a player could search through a grimoire of dozens of predefined demons to find the one he wants, the very act of summoning simply allows the Sorcerer to specify from the zillions of available demons what type of demon he desires.  The above mechanic is not so much authorship as shortcutting the need to list out the zillion available demons in advance.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 25, 2001, 01:51:00 PM
Well, in the politest possible terms, I'd just say that is crap :smile:

You see Sorcerer is not about the demons. It's about he Sorcerers and what drives and motivates them to interact with these demons and what the consequences are. The fact that the nature of demons is not fully presented in the rules is not a cop out, because presenting a demon bibliography would go against the whole premise of the game. The demons are just a construct to explore this issue.

I've had my problems with the game in the passed, but I believe the above is true.

If Sorcerer was to include a Demon bibliography this would a define demons, and hence limit their story potential. The fact a player can describe the demon he wants to summon gives him control of his character development - rather than having to limit his character development from monster manual. If I have a character who's lost love has died, may be, as part of my Author Stance, I'd have my character summon a demon who's sole purpose is to mimic the appearance of my lost love? This sort of creature, and the unique 'problems' I want my character to suffer because of this action, may not be in the monster manual.

This is like saying that The Whispering Vault, or Over the Edge does not have detailed combat rules because they could not be bothered to put them in. It also means Unknown Armies copped out by being too lazy to put a complete skills list in the game.

In fact this comment is just weird, it shows a total disregard for a wide range of game design options - and basically says all games have to be  more simulationist (rather than actually simulationist) in goal.



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 25, 2001, 02:08:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-25 12:37, Mike Holmes wrote:

In fact, I believe that this "new" style is being proposed more as a style of play than a design goal. So could it be that we're comparing apples to oranges all along? IIRC, Ron has stated that his model is only pertinent in the context of it being about design.  If you are considering it from the POV of playing styles, maybe it should be be GED or Gamist, Explorationist, and Dramatist. After all Ron only changed Dramatist to Narrativist when he considered the model in the light of it being about design; all in the context of "System Does Matter".

A lot of IIRC, here, as well as IMHO.

Mike Holmes


I think this is the issue, we now have@

(1) The model for looking at games design
(2) The model for looking at player behaviour
(3) The model for looking at player/design interaction

I find it hard to believe one model will match them all (we already admit using GNS for option 2 is an interesting sideline at best).

As for 3, I'm really not sure what the point is? If your designing a game you have a goal and vision and you should design to that vision, using GNS (if you want) to keep a focus in the mechanics.

Analysing how the games mechanics are used or abused in session is not going to help you any, and trying to second guess this use/abuse to the nth degree is only useful to a certain degree.

You want someone creating something to stick to his vision and do that well, not second guess how people are going to use it, abuse it or perceive it.

Surely?

_________________
Ian O'Rourke
www.fandomlife.net
The e-zine of SciFi media, and Fandom Culture.

[ This Message was edited by: Ian O'Rourke on 2001-05-25 18:11 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 26, 2001, 07:37:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-05-25 17:51, Ian O'Rourke wrote:
Well, in the politest possible terms, I'd just say that is crap :smile:

You see Sorcerer is not about the demons. It's about he Sorcerers and what drives and motivates them to interact with these demons and what the consequences are. The fact that the nature of demons is not fully presented in the rules is not a cop out


Ack, apparently I did a very poor job with that post because I absolutely wasn't presenting that as a "cop-out".  In fact, I think its one of the greatest features of the game.

I just don't think that its a particullarly compelling example of Author stance, since even in the purest "simulationist" game the Sorcerer would be doing exactly the same thing...summoning as close to precisely the exact kind of demon he wants.  Barring mistake or inexperience, a Sorcerer in any game isn't going to summon a titanic earth destroying monster when what he wants is a spy.  He's going to summon exactly the kind of demon he wants with various "simulation" rules indicating how closely he succeeds.  Similarly in Sorcerer you summon exactly what kind of demon you want, subject to GM alteration.

Its not so much Author stance as it is a short cut method that permits the game to be played in any setting with any definition of demon.  The game CAN'T define the demons in advance because that would limit its application.  So the mechanics allow for the demon to be conform to the particular setting being used.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Supplanter on May 26, 2001, 09:00:00 AM
1) How absurd is it to say, first, Simulationism is not a genuine stance but a shrinking in fear from the responsibilities of Gamism or Narrativism, and second, "No one... NO ONE... is under attack here?"

2) We can easily flip it around, though of course, by doing so, we attack...no one...NO ONE:

Narrativism is just an excuse to avoid the responsibility of Simulationism. A simulationist can say, "I failed. I didn't respect the integrity of the setting because of my desire for cheap thrills. I went for a hokey 'climax' at the expense of everything that makes the world worth imagining." A gamist can say, "I failed. Instead of accepting the outcome of the rules I fudged my roll for some transitory amusement."

Gamism is just an excuse to avoid the responsibility of Simulationism. A simulationist can say, "I failed. I accepted an absurd result of the mechanics because it benefitted my character. Had I the guts I'd have insisted that the GM grind my character into the dirt, as the situation demanded."

The above hypotheticals are every bit as valid as Ron's unless you start out biased against simulationism. And how valid are any of them, Ron's and mine both? Answer: Not. In gaming, you have the responsibilities you freely accept and no other.

Ron who is a self-described narrativist and an unacknowledged gamist, simply, as someone suggested above, doesn't get simulationism, and that, despite his painful attempts to be fair, sets a genuine limit on his criticism as criticism. One can follow him so far and no farther. Similarly, my belief that all too much of Narrativism is satisfied with reproducing the thinnest genre tripe (viz. Pantheon) at the expense of genuine human values, and focuses too much on plot at the expense of other literary qualities, limits how much I can usefully say to self-described Narrativists.

None of this makes Ron a bad guy. (As I said, NO ONE...is under attack here.) It makes him William Carlos Williams. It makes him Frost. That is, I class Ron with those practitionars of an art who need, for the sake of their own creativity, to develop systematic theories of their art that were necessarily partial, and necessarily dismissive of what they themselves do not value. Reading Williams' theories of poetry is a teeth-grinding experience for me. Reading at least some of his poems is a pleasure. I like a lot more of Frost's poems, and not surprisingly, feel more visceral approval of his theorizing. That doesn't make Frost right and Williams wrong. They're both "wrong," as critics, but right as artists. Not a little of Ron's discourse on his version of the Three-Fold Model exasperates me. But I contemplate playing Sorcerer with pleasure.

Best,


Jim


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 26, 2001, 03:16:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-26 11:37, Valamir wrote:

I just don't think that its a particullarly compelling example of Author stance, since even in the purest "simulationist" game the Sorcerer would be doing exactly the same thing...summoning as close to precisely the exact kind of demon he wants.  Barring mistake or inexperience, a Sorcerer in any game isn't going to summon a titanic earth destroying monster when what he wants is a spy.  He's going to summon exactly the kind of demon he wants with various "simulation" rules indicating how closely he succeeds.  Similarly in Sorcerer you summon exactly what kind of demon you want, subject to GM alteration.


Possibly, but in my take on it the type of demon summoned has nothing to do with its game application - such as it being good at spying, or the player wanting one that can fight.

It's the player choosing one which will drive the story in a particular direction - such as satisfying his obsession for his dead girlfriend, or summoning one that can really get under the skin of his enemy.

The Author stance comes in this respect - the player is summoning a demon who drives the direction his character wants to go in - not just summoning a demon to allow him to do a physical thing.

Do you see the narrativist side of this demon summoning issue at all?


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 26, 2001, 04:57:00 PM
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On 2001-05-26 19:16, Ian O'Rourke wrote:

Possibly, but in my take on it the type of demon summoned has nothing to do with its game application - such as it being good at spying, or the player wanting one that can fight.

It's the player choosing one which will drive the story in a particular direction - such as satisfying his obsession for his dead girlfriend, or summoning one that can really get under the skin of his enemy.

Do you see the narrativist side of this demon summoning issue at all?



No doubt it can be used that way, and no doubt it often is and is encouraged to be.  But according to the actual rules as written.  No, that is not its primary purpose.

from page 8 of the rules:
"Think your PC is combat-ineffective?  Summon a Parasite demon who protects you from bullets and allows you to spit napalm.  Feel left out?  Contact the demon your buddy Banished during the last run and off it a future Summoning if it gives you the dirt on its last master"

Seems to me those suggestions are much closer to "spying" than "dead girlfriends".

Now I'm hoping that in the second soon to be released print version, Ron incorporates tremendous amounts of all the really fun stuff he's been devoloping since 1998.  But for now...it just isn't there beyond vague suggestions for role-playing modifiers.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: greyorm on May 26, 2001, 06:59:00 PM
Does this argument about whether summoning demons in Sorcerer is Authorial or Simulationist seem to anyone like excessive nitpicking?

It does to me.  So I'll just quote Ron himself to solve the Yes/No: "In a recent Sorcerer game, in the first run, one of the players rolled really well for a Contain role, her first act of sorcery in the run. She looked at me and asked, "What does it look like?" I replied: "You are the animator," and looked expectant. We were then treated to the coolest, most relevant, most perfect for her character description of her sorcery in action."

That sounds pretty Author to me...and Author style is about intent and method, not application, otherwise by the reasoning posted by Valamir above, one could paint every action in a game as being done for "Simulationist" reasons.

"Yes, but he chose to have the detective find the clue because that is what would happen under those circumstances.  Simulationist!"
Or "There was a shotgun in the shop because it is the most powerful weapon and his character looks awesome with it.  Clearly a gamist approach, not Authorial!"

These statements -- like the statement that the demon's in-game function remove Author stance -- show a clear misunderstanding about the nature of the models being discussed.

Hrm...besides, trying to compare Author stance to Simulationist style is like trying to compare apples and hematite -- they aren't even the same sort of thing nor opposed to each other!! (G/N/S and Ac/Au/D aren't inter-comparitive models)

_________________
Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."

[ This Message was edited by: greyorm on 2001-05-26 23:19 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 26, 2001, 07:43:00 PM
You're taking it out of context Raven, but I'm not going to into that here, because all of the context can be found in my subjective simulation thread.

I will say this, however.  There is absolutely no fundamental difference between a purely simulationist sorcerer attempting to make contact with the precise demon he's looking for within the limits imposed by the game on what is available and a Sorcerer sorcerer attempting to make contact with the precise demon he's looking for with the ability of the GM to make alterations to it.

Same exact thing.  If this is Authorship, than it apparently is possible to have Authorship in a simulation which blows the current definition of simulation.  If this is not Authorship than Sorcerer continues to be devoid of any mechanics encouraging authorship and hense still qualifies as a simulation.

Try these on for size if your still not following me:

"A player may describe a demon for their PC to contact, even specifying numerically if they want, but the GM can always alter the demon who actually shows up"

"...all the creative work described above does not necessarily mean the sorcerer, the PC, can summon "whatever they want"  That rests with the definition of sorcery specific to the play group (see Chapter Three)"

"Ordinarily, the GM builds the demon characters.  Sometimes a player has a say in how a demon is built...but the GM has the final word"

Regarding initial demons "This is the only demon sheet the player will ever get to see, and even then it can be altered once it gets in the GM's hands.  After that, the GM generates and controls ALL demon sheets"  Gee, somehow the deliberate restriction of OOC information doesn't seem to mesh with this supposes encouragement of Author stance idea.  Nope, the above "secret info the players aren't allowed to know" is VERY VERY VERY Simulationist.

A final observation, defining what the nature of a demon is in the particular gaming world is (according to page :cool: wholly the province of the GM.  His definition of demons and their characteristics places an absolute restriction on the type of demons a player can summon.  There is absolutely no difference between this and if the game provided such restrictions.  The effect on the player is the same.

Really Raven.  I think some of you people have played Sorcerer so much, and incorporated so many of Ron's advanced ideas about narrative play into your group that you've forgotten the actual rules to the darn game.  I suggest if you're having trouble following me you go back and read the rule book, cause NONE of that advanced narrative play stuff is in there.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Supplanter on May 26, 2001, 08:19:00 PM
Same exact thing. If this is Authorship, than it apparently is possible to have Authorship in a simulation which blows the current definition of simulation.


Someone defined simulationism in such a way as to preclude author stance? Why did they do that?

Best,


Jim



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 26, 2001, 09:46:00 PM
Yup, Ron did.  In the very first part of his definition as found in the Alternate Phylogeny thread (which since this is the thread he refers people too I have to assume this is his desired definition).

In this definition, Author stance is deemed completely incompatible with Simulation.

One of the reasons I dislike Simulation as a category is because you can have Actor and Author with Gamist, you can have Actor and Author with Narrativist, but you can't have Actor and Author with Simulationist.  This tells me that Simulationism is NOT measuring the same type of thing as the other two and therefor is NOT appropriate as the third leg of the model.

Explorative on the other hand, which is NOT the same thing as Simulation with a new name, can handle both Actor and Author stance just fine.

Again I encourage folks to examine the GEN threads on GO.  The GEN model does not eliminate Simulationism or claim it doesn't exist.  Rather what it does is pull Simulationist
out of the triad and turn it into an independent measure of game mechanics in the same way as the Fortune/Karma/Drama trio is.

Thus, if one is designing mechanics that are a simulation of something, this is completely independent of the type of game it is.  You can make a Gamist Game with simulationist mechanics or an Explorative Game with simulationist mechanics or even a Narrativist Game with simulationist mechanics.  In other words Simulation is not an objective, it is one of the paths that can be used to achieve an objective.  And for those who say that Simulation can be an objective in itself, yes this can be handled in GEN too.

Its possible that your Null Compliance game idea might be the first Narrative Simulation I've heard of.


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: greyorm on May 27, 2001, 07:14:00 AM
NOW WITH 33% FEWER INSULTS!!  TRY IT TODAY!!

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the deliberate restriction of OOC information doesn't seem to mesh with this supposes encouragement of Author stance

NO ONE said that Authorship entails complete control of information by the players, which is what your examples and statements seem to be claiming.

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the above "secret info the players aren't allowed to know" is VERY VERY VERY Simulationist.


Somehow having certain information kept from the players is and can only be Simulationist?

Have you never played a narrative detective, mystery or horror game?  By your account, such a beast would be impossible(!) since the players wouldn't be allowed to know certain secret information necessary to the unfolding of the genre.

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A final observation, defining what the nature of a demon is in the particular gaming world is (according to page :cool: wholly the province of the GM.  His definition of demons and their characteristics places an absolute restriction on the type of demons a player can summon.  There is absolutely no difference between this and if the game provided such restrictions.  The effect on the player is the same.

According to the above, any time the GM or group determines any metagame realities, restrictions appear and thus destroy the possibility of Author stance?

So if the game is a medieval fantasy, the GM is restricting his players by not allowing them to Author in a '60s style gangster or an astronaut, or an alien beast from Xorgon, and thus Author stance is destroyed.

Or that dwarves might be dour sourpusses who like gems, or elves might be savage, bloodthirsty killers...oops, darn Narrator restricting the nature of certain types of things.  There goes Author stance, eh?

Narrativist play isn't a cartoon!

(You know the type: objects and people appearing illogically out of the vaccum with nothing really holding them together)

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Really Raven.  I think some of you people have played Sorcerer so much, and incorporated so many of Ron's advanced ideas about narrative play into your group that you've forgotten the actual rules to the darn game.  I suggest if you're having trouble following me you go back and read the rule book, cause NONE of that advanced narrative play stuff is in there.

You'd be surprised how little I've played Sorcerer.

I'm not arguing this from a "Sorcerer fanboy" standpoint, or even a "narrativist" standpoint, just a logical one with an apparently clearer understanding of the terminology, especially as it relates to the workings of Author stance.

And considering that I've discovered recently I am a definite simulationist in practice and haven't used many narrativist ideas in my games, particularly the 'advanced narrativist' ones you're off about (especially since I didn't quite get them until sometime last week)...

Well...how does that foot taste?

_________________
Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."

[ This Message was edited by: greyorm on 2001-05-27 20:12 ]


Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: Valamir on May 27, 2001, 01:15:00 PM
Dude, what is with you.  Is it possible for you to at least try to make a legitimate arguement here.  So far every single one of your posts have been "lets see how I can mock Valamir today".  Half of your arguements where you claim to somehow be devastating my case don't even make sense, and the other half conveniently take the whole issue out of context.

I at no time suggested that narrativist play did not involve restrictions.  Do you perhaps have at least one arguement that isn't flammable and better suited for standing guard in a corn field?

The point, and I will try to make this very clear one last time since you can't seem to be bothered to discover the context yourself.  IS NOT that there is not room for Author stance in Sorcerer, IS NOT that Author stance can't be used in Sorcerer, IS NOT that Author stance means players can act without restriction and therefor restrictions equate to it not being author stance.  IT IS SOLELY AND ENTIRELY nothing more than to demonstrate that there is nothing in 1st edition sorcerer rules that ACTIVELY ENCOURAGES Author Stance (even accounting for the fact that the term wasn't known at the time...there is not a hint of the concept).

It was suggested that that was not true.  That the ability to design a demon by the player was in fact encouraging Author stance even if it wasn't explicitly identified as such.  The rest of the discussion was to counter that claim.  My case is that the ability to design a demon in and of itself is NOT an example of Author stance at work, because you can also design a demon with essentially the exact same effect in a purely simulationist game.  And since by Ron's definition a purely simulationist game cannot have author stance than this ability can not be an example of author stance.  If it is than the ability to do it in a simulationist game is also author stance thereby invalidating that part of the definition.  If it is not than once again we are back to no Sorcerer rules which actively encourage author stance.

Now if you can come up with an effective counter to that to continue the discussion in a manner that doesn't provide a place for crows to perch, I will be more than happy to engage in the debate further.  If not, I'm pretty much done here.



Title: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)
Post by: greyorm on May 27, 2001, 02:38:00 PM
Well, I honestly don't know where you're coming from...I think you're over-reacting and blowing things out of proportion.

Every single one of my posts has been 'mocking' you?  How do you get this?  Every single one?  I don't see it.  I see some harsh judgements of your statements, but nothing about you personally.
Don't take my argumentativeness for anything more than it is.

And in line with that, my arguments don't make sense?  Which ones and how?  
Would you be so kind as to point out which arguments don't make sense and how they don't, instead of just claiming they don't and chiding me about my bad attitude.

For example, you stated that you have never suggested Narrativist play does not involve restrictions.
Yet if you go back and read the post I was responding to you'll find that you were making statements about the GM's ability to control the demons after creation, as a counterpoint to my statements about player-design being Author stance.
Thus the reader must assume you are claiming that restriction and the stance are exclusive of each other.

If you don't see that, it might be because you are too close to it...knowing what you wanted to say but not seeing what you actually said.

And in another instance, your exact words were "'secret info the players aren't allowed to know' is VERY VERY VERY Simulationist."
I responded to this, saying that the mere fact that restricted information exists in a game does not make the game simulationist.  You have yet to respond to this.

You also went on to say, "...places an absolute restriction on the type of demons a player can summon. There is absolutely no difference between this and if the game provided such restrictions. The effect on the player is the same."
If this has NOTHING TO DO with the disagreement (that Sorcerer demon summoning is/isn't Authorship), then for what reason in the context of the discussion of Author stance and demon-summoning was it brought up?

The manner in which it was phrased can be seen as nothing else: "somehow the deliberate restriction of OOC information doesn't seem to mesh with this supposes encouragement of Author stance idea"

But you aren't arguing that?
Then I'm sorry, but you've utterly lost me.

Simply, everything I had said was a response to your claim that "There is absolutely no fundamental difference between a...sorcerer attempting to make contact with the precise demon he's looking for within the limits imposed by the game...and a Sorcerer sorcerer attempting to make contact with the precise demon he's looking for with the ability of the GM to make alterations to it."

I disagree (for the third time); there is a fundamental difference, one which you apparently don't see but which I do.  I've tried to point it out, but you still don't see it.

This, apparently, is somehow insulting.  I feel that next time I'll just nod and agree with you to save you the trouble of feeling hurt when someone doesn't agree with your stance.

Given the content of the other recent thread we clashed in, I'm getting the feeling you're not seperating judgements upon your logic and premises from judgements upon you, personally, because honestly that's what it looks like from here.

As to the flammability of my arguments, let's get to that...

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The point, and I will try to make this very clear one last time since you can't seem to be bothered to discover the context yourself.

And I write flamebait?
Have I openly INSULTED your intellect or called you names?  No.  I have not.  I've pounded on some of your statements pretty hard, but not you personally.  I'd appreciate if you would extend me the same courtesy.

Thus far you've accused me of being a blinded Sorcerer fanboy ("Really Raven. I think some of you people have played Sorcerer so much...") and assumed that I was just a narrativist defending his holy writ and couldn't really understand a simulationist viewpoint, and now you've gone and called me stupid.

And when I point out that you're making a rather big assumption about my reasoning or background, you take it as an insult.  Sure, no one likes having it pointed out that they've put their foot in their mouth, but that doesn't mean I'm going to just ignore that you did.
(not to mention, the foot statement was meant lightly, not harshly...of course, that inflection is hard to translate here)

Finally, in regards to the context issue, I'm not at you about the point you'd like to be discussing -- is Sorcerer overall Simulationist or Authorial -- but instead at you about your claim that demon-summoning is supposedly Simulationist and lacks any elements of Authorship.
Are you with me now?

Here's my point in a nutshell: I don't buy your logic in regards to Sorc demon-summoning being non-Author.  I think it's skewed.  I provided reasons why.
If that isn't obvious, and you need to fire off insults and accusations in order to feel better about the discussion, I have to wonder if you are capable of dealing with criticism, because, to me, your attitude doesn't feel like it.

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My case is that the ability to design a demon in and of itself is NOT an example of Author stance at work, because you can also design a demon with essentially the exact same effect in a purely simulationist game.

And I pointed out that this sounds like a misrepresentation of the terms Author and Simulationist to me, intent and method and all that which I won't go into again since you can read it all above.

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Now if you can come up with an effective counter to that to continue the discussion in a manner that doesn't provide a place for crows to perch, I will be more than happy to engage in the debate further.  If not, I'm pretty much done here.

As to coming up with an effective counter to your 'challenge', please check all my posts above since my responses to your arguments are therein, and frankly, since your shorts are in a serious knot over this and it seems unlikely right now to improve with further discussion, I'm done too.  Sorry it had to come to bickering.

_________________
Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."

[ This Message was edited by: greyorm on 2001-05-27 20:19 ]