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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 11:13:46 AM



Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 11:13:46 AM
Fine, Ralph wants to put out that I've got some half-assed unformed theory working? I'll play along. Besides this has been eating away at me for so long that maybe it's time I got t out there. :-)

----------------
Waaay back Jared posted the Beeg Horseshoe Theory (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=617). In it, he said that Sim didn't exist. He didn't really give a reason, but he stated it anyhow. And he sticks behind his point to this day.

Well, there's something about the model that stuck in my head the whole time. And what I've come to accept is that it seems to me that nobody plays RPGs in a complete vaccuum of lack of desire for G or N. I mean I can theorize of what such play might look like, but that's not the same as saying it happens.

Now, way back then, I challenged the "theory" by saying that I liked Sim, and felt that it was marginalizing to say that this was not a style of play. Have I changed my mind? No, I have not.

A while back, someone (please step forward whoever you are) that these things might be thought of as a couple of different axes. And over time, I've started to accept this more or less.

Essentially, you have two questions in a decision. One, am I making this as a "game decision" or a "story decision", G or N? And secondly, how much am I taking into account Versimilitude* as a goal of the decision. These are both affected on every single decision.  Even if you don't actually think about them, the fact that we're playing in a "shared imagined environment" makes the question important. Especially to the other players.

Thus a decision seems to me to be Low Sim Gamism, perhaps, or High Sim Narrativism, or any other cross. Gamism and Narrativism are not binary either, but vary from a center that's a compromise. Think of it as a two dimensional space with the decision's position being determined by two vectors at right angles. So instead of the Beeg Horseshoe, we've got a plane actually.

What does this say? Well, that in terms of game support, all games are hybrid. And this seems patently true to me. All game support Exploration. The question is to what extent they are dedicated to Exploration being done "right". That is adherence to some sort of setting specific guidelines.

This is just the preliminary overview of the concept. I wasn't really prepared to deliver it. So my thoughts will probably get highly refined as people challenge the concept (as I hope they will). But it has more impact than this post may seem to imply or is obvious up front.

*I don't use Sim, because I'm trying to differentiate how this theory varies from GNS.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 29, 2003, 11:26:22 AM
Mike,

I had a nice talk about this the other day, and the more I think about it, the more I think you're right. It's neat, because this isn't exactly the Beeg Horseshoe: it's not that Simulationism doesn't exist, it's that it's everywhere.

This also explains why Narrativism and Gamism look like kissing cousins, while Simulationism has always been the weird uncle in the closet: it's not the same thing, a different axis than Narrativism and Gamism, always used with them, but a definition of another part of an RPG.

In this light, the term is odd, though. Exploration can't replace it: all games have Exploration. The example I'd give that's baffling me is my own post-apocalyptic Sorcerer and Sword game: when we played this game, I injected a lot of surrealism. Bizarre conjoined married couples showed up, one villain kept coming back no matter how many times he died, the geography and world changed during play often. So, it was low on the Simulationism, as it didn't simulate much of anything, real or unreal. It was very high on the Exploration, though.

How does something like that fit into this structure?


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 11:52:55 AM
Like I said, I'm not going to call it Simulationism because that would indicate by the older model that it's a type of decision by itself. And doesn't indicate the spectrum nature. I think that it's precisely that it is like Exploration, however, in that all games have some level of adherence to in-game reality along some spectrum. But I'll leave that term alone.

As to your specific game, however, it all depends on what the "rules" for the world are. This is the old "reality" caveat. Also, you're to an extent making the Simulationism must simulate error.

So I'm a little stuck for terms at the moment. What I need is a term for the spectrum that goes from at one extreme ignoring the "reality" of the game completely, and on the other pays so much atttention to the in-game conventions that it almost blots out the other axis. Plausibility almost works for this one, but not quite. Internal Consistency?

And the other spectrum should be named, as well. Something like the Challenge/Theme axis.

And yes, this does explain the percieved relationsip between N/G without the too commonly repeated statement that they are similar. They aren't, but one can shift from one to the other while ignoring the other axis easily. It's precisely shifting to the two axis view that allows us to see the difference.

Again, I want to point out that I think I'm just reiterating an idea that's not new. I do think that I have some new ideas on implications, however.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on May 29, 2003, 12:00:14 PM
Hi Mike,

This is another one of those weird, "everyone's thinking along the same lines" deals.  Paul and I were discussing this thread last night:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=24

which he jokingly referred to as the Dark Secret of the Forge.  Anyway, minus the contentiousness and the motives behind Sim goals, your new take would definitely explain a bit more on how G/N are very different than S.  I personally can get with G/N, but S as a goal alone has always eluded me.

How's this for a term?  Fidelity.  High Fidelity=Staying close to the plausibilty as defined by the game/setting/etc.  Low Fidelity=willingness to discard or ignor it at will for other purposes?

So Riddle of Steel would be a High Fidelity Narrativist game, right?

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 12:21:21 PM
Quote from: Bankuei
So Riddle of Steel would be a High Fidelity Narrativist game, right?

Absolutely. Now can you give me a name for that other spectrum?

What I like about this is that it does segregate the "sim" urge, but it doesn't marginalize it. So I can have my games like TROS.

Anyhow can anyone see how this relates to the recent threads on incoherence and hybrid games? Or to Ron's claims in the essay about Sim tending to get relegated to a "subordinate" role? Lot's to talk about in terms of these things I think.

Quote
High Fidelity=Staying close to the plausibilty as defined by the game/setting/etc


I'd change that to: Adhering to certain conventions of the setting for their own sake.

That is a Narrativist decision can be Plausible, but still not have this quality. It's an odd quality to name because it serves to support a few goals, but ones that are tangential to the other axis. That is, that thing that I call Sim Immersion is served by High Fidelity, but also exploration of certain elements outside character can also be a goal. I'm not defining goals, here, just decision making (which is why it's an alteration of GNS). The decisions as they exist on this spectrum may have many goals, but they all have things like "Realism" and "Detailism" and the like in common.

It's not Plausibility. It's "In-Game". I know that's not clear, but it's a hard concept to get across. Can anyone else restate it better (or refute it)?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: clehrich on May 29, 2003, 12:26:05 PM
Speaking of people all being on the same page, isn't this "Fidelity" about adherence to Baseline?  I mean, for me this is the primary axis of the Baseline-Vision spectrum: adherence or non-adherence "to the plausibilty as defined by the game/setting/etc." as Chris put it.  Interesting to think about Sim, i.e. essentially pure Exploration, as somewhat different from G & S.

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 29, 2003, 12:31:04 PM
This is a small post on naming:

Chris - Fidelity is just about the best term I can imagine.

Mike - I really like Challenge/Theme. I know it's not one term, but one term that you can apply a quantifier to is going to be hard to find for this purpose. Challenge and Theme get down to what Gamism and Narrativism are all about while getting rid of the annoying terms of "game" and "narrative".


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 12:32:47 PM
Quote from: clehrich
Speaking of people all being on the same page, isn't this "Fidelity" about adherence to Baseline?  I mean, for me this is the primary axis of the Baseline-Vision spectrum: adherence or non-adherence "to the plausibilty as defined by the game/setting/etc." as Chris put it.

I can't be sure, I really don't get what Basline is anymore (if I ever did). If baseline is simply that which the player is supposed to find familliar, then I don't think so. But I probably have what it's supposed to be wrong.

This axis is supposed to be about how devoted the player is to the idea that the game-world has some sort of tangible value itself, and not as a construct such as a game or a story. Those qualities are added separately.

Does that make it clearer?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Valamir on May 29, 2003, 12:40:15 PM
I'll just (somewhat smugly I might add) note that there were several threads started by me about that time railing against the definition of Simulationism as it was then understood.  In fact, my frustration with the large amounts of sillyness being expressed about simulationism at that time led me to team up with Scarlet Jester and work on the GENder model.

Its eerie how similiar Mikes initial post to this thread (and others chiming in to agree) is to that old GENder model...I might still have some drafts of it on my harddrive somewhere before SJ got fed up with the whole thing and quit.

IMO, I'll note the following:


1) in ages past I stated many times both here and on GO that Simulationism (or what Mike here is searching for an alternative term for) existed seperately from the G and the N along a different axis.   Going back and reading Thread 24 you'll note that I referred to
Quote
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.


2) Simulationism then went through some growing pains in which it was redefined to include a whole bunch of other stuff.

3) That other stuff was then carved back out and relabeled Exploration and given a new place above GNS.

4) Which leaves the S right back in the position it was of not really fitting in.


Strangely enough...having added Exploration to GNS, if you carve out the S and put it on a different axis you know what you wind up with?

GENder

a slightly more advanced version of GENder (to be expected since SJ and I had just gotten started on it when he departed GO for parts unknown), but GENder, none the less.
[/smug]


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Matt Wilson on May 29, 2003, 12:49:09 PM
Mike:

This is really good. I can still picture it as a horseshoe of sorts, where the influence of the various S factors can outweigh the G or N factors, like maybe the two ends of the shoe point up, and the S is gravity.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 01:16:34 PM
Very good Ralph, except that I'm not proposing that Exploration isn't a factor in the other modes. I mean certainly one is exploring the character is one makes a Narrativist decision about some character issue. So Gender is out. I do admit that I'm probably influenced by your posts, however (imagine that). :-)

No, the primary difference here is that I'm saying that G and S or N and S priorities are not mutually exclusive. This is bigtime GNS heresy, and I was wondering when I'd get called on it. But what I'm proposing is that over a single decision, or even over the "instance of play" that one can have Sim/Nar decisions, or Sim/Gam decisions. Or to be precise that my model considers them separately. Which is important because Incoherency only occurs IMO, when one or both axes have problematically disparate play. Thus you have Fidelity Incoherence or G/N Incoherency (or both).

Now, on to Ron's biggest point (in a self-critical manner). What about play in which a player comes to a certain decision point at which his decision can only be one or another, say Sim or Nar. Well, for one thing, that's simply putting the Fidelity (can you tell I really like that term) thing at a high or low level. There's no question about the other axis, and where the decision stands.

And since GNS is now only supposed to be considered in terms of "instances of play" anyhow, these single decisions don't matter. Over the course of several decisions there's no way that there won't be possibilities to change from one to the other level of Fidelity. So over the long haul there will be both an observable amount of Fidelity, and a certain placement on the other axis as well.

(just to give Ron something to chew on once he get's here)

Note the other thing about this is that it neatly avoids the problems of control that bring up The Impossible Thing.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 01:17:54 PM
Quote from: Matt Wilson
I can still picture it as a horseshoe of sorts, where the influence of the various S factors can outweigh the G or N factors, like maybe the two ends of the shoe point up, and the S is gravity.
I wouldn't say "outweigh" but potentially overshadow, yes.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: jdagna on May 29, 2003, 01:42:51 PM
I'm not really sure I'm understanding the hairs that are getting split here, so let me bumble around a bit and tell me how far off the mark I am.

You seem to be saying that Sim play doesn't really seem like a mode of its own because the other two modes still include Exploration and decisions in those modes can adhere to a whole range of Verisimilitude.  

I can definitely see that.  It's like the old Axis and Allies debate my friend and I had.  He insisted that the rules allowed you to build infantry anywhere.  I insisted that 1) the rules didn't say that and 2) it didn't make any sense, since troops need manufactured goods life uniforms and guns.  Both arguments were essentially Gamist.  But I had the added objection based in Verisimilitude.

However, sim play as defined in GNS still makes a lot of sense to me because it talks about player priorities.  In the argument between my friend and I, we were both still prioritized in a Gamist mode.  For me, Verisimilitude was brought in as an added argument against someone who clearly didn't know the rules.  A Narrativist decision still prioritizes the thematic elements.  Perhaps the decision also supports Verisimilitude, but isn't that more of an accident or coincidence than anything else?

I can also see where you're saying that Sim play easily incorporates elements of the other two modes.  However, I see what I do in designing a Sim scenario as quite different from what others do in designing Gam or Nar scenarios.

Let's say I want a scenario that features a significant combat challenge.  

The Gamist sits down, comes up with something challenging based on the party's strength and then comes up with a reason why they're there.  Sometimes the reason is good (the dragon woke up because an evil mage summoned it) and sometimes not ("You find a dragon.  He's about 100 feet long."  "Wait, I thought the cave entrance was only 10 feet tall?")

The Narrativist starts by asking what point he wants to make (or how the battle will facilitate the players' themes).  Then he designs the battle to fit.  Like the Gamist, this may have high Verismilitude or not.

As a Simulationist, I sit down and say "OK, who have they upset recently?  How strong is that person and how upset is he?"  I figure out what makes sense (has Verisimilitude) and then see if its too difficult for the players to beat.  If it is, I start thinking about other factors that might give a more balanced challenge.  It's only after I come up with a situation that I ask about the difficulty or try to balance the challenge. Likewise, I only look for thematic meaning in the battle after its over - trying to think about that ahead of time seems almost pointles to me.

So, for me, all three GNS modes have some crossover, but the model's focus is on priorities.   I do see Sim play an as entirely different priority from the other two modes.  If its the weird uncle to the other two, perhaps that's because the priority is in the game world (as opposed to competition or theme, which both happen at the player level).

It seems like trying to construct an axis or horseshoe model isn't really changing GNS.  It just seems to be asking "What's going on along side the prioritized mode?"


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 29, 2003, 01:54:51 PM
Don't have a lot of time, I have to go eat a few dozen chicken wings. But here's the short answer until tomorrow.

Ron says that plausibility is important to Nar play. I posit that in fact both Fidelity and Narrative priorities can be put forth as primary, and, in fact, are usually until a trade off is required. Then and only then does play move to that low Fidelity, high Narrativism region.

This explains a phenomenon that I've been trying to explain for a long while. In movies or books, whathaveyou, often authors will step outside the bounds of Fidelity to get something that makes a plot special. Some people will buy this, and some people will not ("transporters can't do that!")

The people who will swallow this are the people who have more tolerance for low fidelity play. The others want high fidelity all the time. At least in that their tastes for each of these forms coincide.

Yes, to an extent this is very much the same theory, but I think it breaks it down in ways that have profound implications. We'll get to some more of those tomorra.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 29, 2003, 02:54:37 PM
Challenge/Theme doesn't seem right.  Theme implies the GNS definition of Nar.

One thing that has always bothered me about the relationship between Sim and Nar is how narrow the definition of Nar was.  Any Story Now priority that isn't for the reason of Ergi's Premise falls under Sim Story or gets labeled as not-an-rpg-but-cooperative-storytelling.  For example:  Story Now for the sake of genre adherance, for comedy, for gee-wiz-bang-cool-like-it-would-happen-in-the-movies, or for its own sake.  All metagame, but non-Nar and non-Gam.  That kind of stuff is what validates Sim as an independent priority in the GNS model, except for the fact that they happen to be metagame reasons so they don't technically fall under Sim either.  Leaving me with that 'grr, smashy smash' feeling.

However, Story Now as an independent priority (which Nar would be a subset of) is an acceptable counterpart to Challenge in my mind.  But, gee, isn't Challenge/Story Now Axis an ugly term?  Trouble is, I also can't think of a single word that doesn't favor one end of the axis.

I also think that in regards to this model Exploration should be left floating in its own island, much like Stance.  It shouldn't rest above or below, but be part of a matrix.  Such that you could say High Fidelity|Story Now|Explore Char|Author Stance.  Different players with these same goals may choose to layer them differently, and if they ever have to choose between them they may choose different categories as a primary motivation.

Let's see...Baseline and Vision.  Gonna need a solid definition, but...  My understanding was that Baseline was sort of the framework of expectations you can draw on to fill in unstated paramaters and Vision was the elements you needed to specify to the reader as coloring and diverging from your Baseline.  I see similarities, but it doesn't seem necessary true that expectations would be high fidelity and divergent elements low fidelity.  However, there may be a bit of a connection here...I distinctly remember jumping up and down and pointing at Fang while yelling "Beeg Horseshoe Theory!  Beeg Horseshoe Theory!" in one of those threads.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on May 29, 2003, 06:10:22 PM
I'm not persuaded.

As I understand the history, war games were originally devised with a view to using them to determine best strategies in real battle situations; their ability to emulate real combat conditions was an essential factor. I believe that they were so used in both world wars, as terrain features were sculpted and generals set figures in the sand and played out options.

In that context, neither narrativist nor gamist priorities were so useful. That is, we're not asking either whether the opponent is going to have moral issues about a particular approach or which approach is strategically best for the opponent, but given what we know about the opponent, what strategy is he most likely to use?

Similarly, in moving our troops in such a situation, in order to properly determine the outcome, we had to ask what particular field commanders were likely to do when faced with the situation we anticipated. Obviously, there will be field commanders who will retreat sooner versus those who will press harder; there will be commanders who will delay in looking for the opportunity versus those who will make the opportunity. We don't want to ask why they are different; we don't want to know what would happen if they all followed orders precisely. We want to know what will happen given everything we know about those commanders.

Thus the simulationist agenda itself is very much at the root of the development of wargames, despite the gamist influences that rapidly arose in the hobby form.

I've been in games where all I did was try to go with the reality--I had no story to tell, and no goal to achieve. It was nothing other than a time to experience something, to see what happened in response to what I did. I don't think that's a non-existent thing.

It's certainly true that sim play is easier to integrate with or disintegrate from the other two than they are to integrate with or disintegrate from each other. On the other hand, not so long ago someone was trying to suggest a hybrid approach in which all goals led to the same decisions (the Netrunner CCG thread). If we're looking at "it's the end of the world, unless you can save everyone, and you're the only ones who can do it," suddenly, sim, nar, and gam choices are all going to start to align with each other--gamist because the characters need to succeed, narrativist because the issue is the struggle against the cost of failure in this situation, and simulationist because, as someone said, no sane person is going to risk failing at such a task. You can integrate them by narrowing the scope of the game; they are still independent.
Quote from: Jason a.k.a. Cruciel
That kind of stuff is what validates Sim as an independent priority in the GNS model, except for the fact that they happen to be metagame reasons so they don't technically fall under Sim either.
I just recently wrote something--it's probably in that horrible Heinrich thread--in which I recall someone (and I cannot remember who) rejecting the notion that sim doesn't have a metagame, and quite intelligently so. The metagame priority in simulationism is verisimilitude itself, whether this would actually happen given the assumptions of the game world. Thus simulationism of movie reality is simulationism if that's the priority, because our metagame priority is to make it as much like the source material as possible.

Actually, Jason, those examples,
Quote
genre adherance, for comedy, for gee-wiz-bang-cool-like-it-would-happen-in-the-movies, or for its own sake....
point up the metagame priority of simulationism quite well. You could be going for realism, for fidelity to a published reality, or for adherence to any of those priorities you named, and be involved in simulationism. Narrativism doesn't say that verisimilitude doesn't matter, but that it can't be allowed to derail consideration of the theme (why narrativist games so often allow people to arrive on the scene "at the right moment" instead of "when they would get there", a point I make in the other thread). Gamism doesn't say that verisimilitude doesn't matter, but only that we need to have a solid basis on which to predict what will happen so we can make fully optimized choices and have the system validate those choices through consistency.

Put me down as seeing Simulationism as one of the Big Three, and not The Other Thing.

--M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 05:59:56 AM
Quote from: cruciel
Challenge/Theme doesn't seem right.  Theme implies the GNS definition of Nar.

Jason, I'm going to leave most of your thoughts about Narrativism alone, and let Ron or somebody else respond to them if they feel like it. Because my new model doesn't challenge Ron's definition of Narrativism, but as it happens, it does reconcile the problems that you're seeing, I think. At the very least, I think it makes it easier to look at.

Here's why. The problem that I see with people trying to disect where the divergence occurs between Char Sim and Char Nar, for example, is that when it's Nar, people are usually playing up the "what would my character do" aspect. This is why Ron always tells me that my examples are incorrect, and why it's hard to delineate the line. Examples don't work precisely because what one does is to prioritize both at the same time. Ron says that all action must be Plausible. Well that just means that there's some element of Fidelity inherent in every decision. Dividing that out into it's own priority doesn't say that this is not true. But it does make it hard to think about which is "more" prioritzed in most situations. I would say that they're often both given high priority.

So my model doesn't really defy the original model. If you look at the two dimensional space, you can draw lines where the priorities are equal, past which the decision would be labeled Sim or Nar, or Gamist. The problem with that model is that it makes you tend to think of these things in terms of the one priority being more important than the other to the player. When in fact, they're both important, and just trading off.

And most importantly, they can be prioritized highly together at the same time. Again, this is completely accepted by the original theory, and not the Impossible Thing (to head that off at the pass). That is, a player can prioritze both at such a level that you can't really tell, even as that player, what's "more important". And in mixed play over time, even when there are individual examples of each, the total "instance" can be hybrid.

Nothing in there goes against any of the current theory you'll find. So what I'm presenting is what I think is a superior model for how to look at these things.

Now, a

Quote
But, gee, isn't Challenge/Story Now Axis an ugly term?  Trouble is, I also can't think of a single word that doesn't favor one end of the axis.
Yes, but it's key so we'll have to work on that. See, that axis I see as the "what the player expends his power to decide upon axis". That is, if I make a decision, I can make it "to win" or "to be dramatic". These are truely mutually exclusive. That is, the decisions to do one or the other, though they may look similar, have such different mental approaches to the game that they can't be the same at one time. Hence why when it does become apparent what the thought process is, those that prefer one over the other have problems with the other. The Roll playing Vs Role Playing thing in action. So this still needs its own axis to define that incoherency.

The Fidelity axis has it's own Incoherency on it's ends. But it's never Incoherent with the other axis. That is, no player plays so "sim" that they make decisions that are so devoid of meaning on the other axis that a problem occurs. Call this Marco's Problem. This model solves this problem. It shows that, no matter how into the Fidelity of the game, my decisions still can have "story" value.

The question of railroading is ancillary. Yes that takes away player power to have any any effect to go to the "left" or "right" on the "what do you do with your power" axis. Leaving you only with the ability to affect the Fidelity axis. But when players have power, they use it. This is my core contention.

Quote
I also think that in regards to this model Exploration should be left floating in its own island, much like Stance.  It shouldn't rest above or below, but be part of a matrix.  Such that you could say High Fidelity|Story Now|Explore Char|Author Stance.  Different players with these same goals may choose to layer them differently, and if they ever have to choose between them they may choose different categories as a primary motivation.
I quite agree. But that's not really different than the previous model. These things have always been independent in terms of there having been no direct linkages.

Quote
Let's see...Baseline and Vision.  Gonna need a solid definition, but...  My understanding was that Baseline was sort of the framework of expectations you can draw on to fill in unstated paramaters and Vision was the elements you needed to specify to the reader as coloring and diverging from your Baseline.
I hope that we can get a better definition as well. Because I don't see how there are things that are presented as being "what you do" that are differentiated into these categories. Unless this means that Baseline is just that which isn't focused on, and therefore follows generic resolution vs. Vision which is stuff that has specific resolution systems.

I don't want to get too into that here, but I'd be interested to hear from other's if they think that this model works with or co-opts any of that theory. If so, maybe a new thread.

But we still have a long way to go yet on this thread before we can even say that this theory is sound enough to warrant people making other connections.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 06:24:18 AM
I'm putting this in a separate post for organization sake. It follows one above.

Quote from: M. J. Young
I'm not persuaded.
Excellent.

Quote
... war games ...

In that context, neither narrativist nor gamist priorities were so useful. That is, we're not asking either whether the opponent is going to have moral issues about a particular approach or which approach is strategically best for the opponent, but given what we know about the opponent, what strategy is he most likely to use?
But how are these not the same? I mean, a good simulation will make it difficult to use unrealistic solutions. So in the end, good Gamism is usually congruent with good Sim. So long as the mechanism is accurate. When it's not, and someone plays Gamist, wargamers call this being "gamey". Not because Gamism is bad. Because the player is exploiting the inadequate system.

Quote
We want to know what will happen given everything we know about those commanders.
So we can win. Yes simulating commanders well is important to an accurate simulation so that there is Congruence (in the Walt sense) between decisions. But all we're saying here is that both axes exist in wargames as well.

Quote
I don't think that's a non-existent thing.
Neither do I. But even in the most "simmy" wargames, players are trying to win. After all, there's no incoherency possible here. A wargame is predicated on the idea that they are both accurate sims to some extent, and that the excercise is to win.

The real test would be if there were a game where players just played aliens on an alien planet, and no conflict occured. You were just presented with typical day to day stuff, and were told to "react" appropriately. I can see it thoeretically, but it would be totally original to RPG play. Note how the central feature of most RPGs is some sort of conflict resolution system. All RPGs expect conflict. And what's more, because I think people are familiar with games and forms of communication like literature, movies and TV, players will insert conflict, even if it's not present to start (Alien Bob gets huffy towards alien Joe because of distribution of breeding stock or something).

As soon as you have Conflict, you have players using their powers to go Gamist or Narrativist.

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The metagame priority in simulationism is verisimilitude itself, whether this would actually happen given the assumptions of the game world. Thus simulationism of movie reality is simulationism if that's the priority, because our metagame priority is to make it as much like the source material as possible.
I'm not denying that the fidelity axis corresponds to it's own metagame piority. I'm just saying that they don't conflict. It's power distribution that causes players to have to stick only to fidelity, and have no power to affect the other axis. Some players want power for one reason or the other, and this is what's problematic. Not that they have a certain level of tolerance for Fidelity. That always remains constant.

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Put me down as seeing Simulationism as one of the Big Three, and not The Other Thing.
Think of it this way, I've just made "sim" more important by separating it out into it's own axis. With this theory we can look at as not conflicting with the other two any more, which will, I think, make people understand what we've been saying all along without marginalizing them into some category that seems very large, but doesn't resonate in it's description with anyone who does it.

Part of why I've been thinking about this is because I disagree with most of Ron's Simulationism essay. Especially the parts where he starts talking about it as "subordinate". This theory, to me, reconciles all that.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on May 30, 2003, 06:50:04 AM
Hi Mike,

Glad to see this developing.

Quote
The real test would be if there were a game where players just played aliens on an alien planet, and no conflict occured. You were just presented with typical day to day stuff, and were told to "react" appropriately.


This is something that has been on my mind for some time concerning Sim play.  G/N play both have explicit goals on the part of the player, while Sim seems to lack that conflict(either in challenge, or the asthetics of making theme), perhaps our second axis should be titled Conflict?

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Valamir on May 30, 2003, 07:12:28 AM
That's not bad Chris.

The Conflict axis.  Do you deal with conflict as a game construct or as an opportunity to address a premise; or in the middle presumeably neutral, i.e. not caring.

The Fidelity axis (formerly Simulation).  In dealing with conflicts what level of emphasis is placed on verisimilitude.  Do you have a high degree of fidelity, or a low degree of fidelity.


I like the elegance of it.  Now, where are the big gaping holes we haven't thought of yet?


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Walt Freitag on May 30, 2003, 07:27:18 AM
Hi Mike,

Very interesting stuff here.

Here are my current reservations.

1. The nature of play midway along the G-N axis is unclear. You describe it as an equal mix of G and N, but could it not also be the complete lack of both G and N priorities? If G and N are incompatible mind-sets is not that the more likely possibility? And yet, if all play must contain one or the other, that appears a contradiction.

2. There's also a point in the continuum representing low-fidelity neither-G-nor-N (or equal G and N) play. What does that play look like? (Perhaps, one of those endless Trivial Pursuit games with no one keeping score that happen when everyone is too tired or drunk to think of anything else to do?)

3. We know that problems relating to player differences on G vs. S priorities do occur. A GM says, "Your character's intelligence is too low to have thought of that." A player joins a dungeon crawl and wants to play a priest opposed to all killing of animals. We've characterized whole systems as being G-S incoherent. What do these things mean, in terms of the proposed new version of the model?

I think I can give a partial answer to #2. I believe that any representation of GNS space as a continuum, including yours and including the conventional "big triangle," covers a space larger than the general consensus of what role playing games are. (As I said on the Airplane Problem thread, I belive this is exactly why GNS doesn't require a universally agreed-upon definition of what a role playing game is to be useful.)  On the triangle, the whole no-Sim edge gets cut off as being outside role-playing-as-we-know-it territory, and (if your theory about the fundamental importance of G or N is correct) the all-Sim corner would be lopped off too. Hmm, the resulting trapezoid could then easily be distorted and overlapped with your rectangle. It would look very similar, except its metric for G and N would be different in a way that just happens to resolve issue #1. Velllly innnntelesting.

Issue #3 remains key. What does any GNS continuum mean with regards to distinctions between coherent and incoherent, functional and dysfunctional, single-mode vs. hybrid, play, players, and systems? (That's a hybrid question; rhetorical enough that I'm not looking for an answer in detail at this stage, but not so rhetorical that I'm implying that continua are a bad idea.)

- Walt


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on May 30, 2003, 08:09:38 AM
Hi Walt,

Excellent points in all...

#1-

As someone who enjoys Gamist and Narrativist play both, I technically should be able to describe that region, but it still remains alien to me.  I can look back at play experiences and directly say, "There's Nar at work!, Oh, look, went Gamist when I did that!", but can't really recall an action that was neither, but perhaps #2 holds some clues for us...

#2-

Low fidelity(genre expectations don't matter so much), Low Gam, Low Nar, what's the draw?  Socialization.  If we're using a X,Y,Z thing mapped to G/N/Fidelity, then we're talking about close to the zero point.  I'd say the zero point itself is hanging out with buddies and bullshitting.  It's the point where the game doesn't matter.

It's like folks who go bowling, to the movies, or to a sports game, and don't really care for it, but are there simply to hang out with their friends.  Winning doesn't matter, the "spirit" of the game, the theme, the immersion, all of that is secondary to enjoying some time with your friends in this case.  I'd say the term "Beer & Pretzels" has a connection to games that are focused around this.

#1 part 2 :P

So, looking at that idea, if you're not very heavily into the G/N aspect of things, but high on Fidelity, perhaps you're either in denial of your G/N desires or there for socialization.  A third aspect that may come into play is basing your actions off of social approval of others, in which case the G/N decisions are more based on the preferences of the group, or specific individuals within the group.

If we're talking good stuff like GURPS, the classic high sim, no filler game, then what we're talking about is a High Fidelity game, that has room for drift from slight to gross drift towards G/N.

#3 Random thoughts, potential avenues of discussion-

Functional/Dysfunctional- It would seem that play is more functional when the group as a whole is playing in nearby coordinates on that X,Y,Z map.  Obviously communication, social contract, and general compromise help out, but distance between emphasis of G/N and Fidelity can cause problems.    Rough edges slide into Dysfunction when the group is no longer willing to make concessions and at least try to address individual concerns.  The "don't talk, don't acknowledge" syndrome.

Single Mode/Hybrid- I think this model perfectly encapsulates the G/S, N/S sorts of gaming.  Observe range from the Pool, TQB, Inspectres, octaNe, Dust Devils, Sorcerer, and TROS, as a range of Low to High Fidelity sorts of games in the Nar range.

Comments?  Ideas?  Nothing here's set in stone, just venturing from my mind at the moment.

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 08:28:16 AM
Quote from: Walt Freitag

1. The nature of play midway along the G-N axis is unclear. You describe it as an equal mix of G and N, but could it not also be the complete lack of both G and N priorities? If G and N are incompatible mind-sets is not that the more likely possibility? And yet, if all play must contain one or the other, that appears a contradiction.
Actually the "complete lack" is quite common, but seems to me to occur because the player has no power to make such aa determination, than not having the will to do so. Think of player power as the potential radius of decision making on the plane (yes, a player can be restricted from determining where he can put his fidelity at by the way the game apportions power, too).

Not all play must contain these things, but the decision not to decide is itself a decision. Staying "in the middle" is just as describable as a player not considering his particular level of Fidelity. It happens to have an effect anyhow. And since these models exist to combat incoherency, the result has an effect. So if I "don't decide" to play it G or N, it's the same as if the choice is congruent. A neutral response.

Let me make that more explicit. It doesn't matter if you consciously decide. Your decision will land somewhere on the spectrum, and the divergence of that with other people's preference is what causes problems to occur.

Quote
2. There's also a point in the continuum representing low-fidelity neither-G-nor-N (or equal G and N) play. What does that play look like? (Perhaps, one of those endless Trivial Pursuit games with no one keeping score that happen when everyone is too tired or drunk to think of anything else to do?)
Low everything? It exists theoretically, but is probably rare.

One of the interesting things about the model is that it says that high fidelity is always better. There are just times that, to get to the particular G or N decision you want, you'll go to a lower Fidelity. Occasionally.

So "low everything" is likely to be seen as sloppy play to say the least. It could be a particular group's goal for some strange reason (and I hope I'm not diparaging anyone here), but I think it rare to nonexistent. One of the things about this model is that we can predict "periodicity" with it, I think.

Quote
3. We know that problems relating to player differences on G vs. S priorities do occur. A GM says, "Your character's intelligence is too low to have thought of that." A player joins a dungeon crawl and wants to play a priest opposed to all killing of animals. We've characterized whole systems as being G-S incoherent. What do these things mean, in terms of the proposed new version of the model?
Glad you asked because I thought of the answer just a while ago, and it might be profound. There is a potential incoherency between the axes, but it's different. It's the incoherency you get when a rule or ruling (as in your example), tries to appeal to metagame and in-game at the same time. That is, it tries to affix the position of the two components simultaneously on both axes. This is the problem with traditional EXP reward systems, for example. They try to say, well, it's realistic, but really we're rewardng the player. Never works. The player has to shoose which axis is informed, and since players can choose either to interperet it as, this will likely cause dissociation on one or both axes.

That wasn't well stated, but can you glean my point? Basically Confusing the axes in design causes players to be confused as to which axis is informed, leading to one of the other two incoherencies. Conflict or Fidelity (I'm adopting Chris' term as you can see). In the end the player who's looking for Gamism isn't bothered by the Fidelity of any decision. Only the extent to which it's also Gamist. Is that any clearer?

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I think I can give a partial answer to #2. I believe that any representation of GNS space as a continuum, including yours and including the conventional "big triangle," covers a space larger than the general consensus of what role playing games are.

...

Velllly innnntelesting.
I was thinking the something similar in general terms about shape. In fact, you could keep that odd corner if only to investigate it.

Thanks for your input so far everyone.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 30, 2003, 08:37:27 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
Actually, Jason, those examples,
Quote
genre adherance, for comedy, for gee-wiz-bang-cool-like-it-would-happen-in-the-movies, or for its own sake....
point up the metagame priority of simulationism quite well. You could be going for realism, for fidelity to a published reality, or for adherence to any of those priorities you named, and be involved in simulationism. Narrativism doesn't say that verisimilitude doesn't matter, but that it can't be allowed to derail consideration of the theme (why narrativist games so often allow people to arrive on the scene "at the right moment" instead of "when they would get there", a point I make in the other thread). Gamism doesn't say that verisimilitude doesn't matter, but only that we need to have a solid basis on which to predict what will happen so we can make fully optimized choices and have the system validate those choices through consistency.


The metagame priority occuring in those examples isn't verisimilitude - it's what would make for the most interesting sequence of events.  But, because prioritizing engagement in the charm of the sequence of events doesn't spring from a moral or ethical question it isn't Nar.  I like action movies and pop fiction, not cinema and literature - that distinction pushes me into the Sim category by process of elimination only.  My hypothesis is that a great number of alleged Simulationist would be better defined as High Fidelity|Story Now.

The fact that verisimilitude is important to Nar and Gam matching up with the approach being discussed here.

Instead of:

Nar = Explore + Nar
Gam = Explore + Gam
Sim = Explore

We have options more like:

Explore + Nar
Explore + Gam
Explore + Nar
Explore + Gam
 
Mike pretty much covered everything else I was going to say.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 08:47:56 AM
Quote from: Bankuei
#2-
Low fidelity(genre expectations don't matter so much), Low Gam, Low Nar, what's the draw?  Socialization.  If we're using a X,Y,Z thing mapped to G/N/Fidelity, then we're talking about close to the zero point.  I'd say the zero point itself is hanging out with buddies and bullshitting.  It's the point where the game doesn't matter.p
Hadn't thought of that. In describing this a "sloppy" I should have noted that there are times when considerations are lower, anyhow. Player decides to have character cross street, maybe describing floating in a non-magic world. Sloppy, but nobody cares because it's not important.

Social is still primary, that hasn't changed. So, yes, it explains continued participation evn when interest is low enough that sloppy play continues. It doesn't cause sloppy play, it just allows for it.

#1 part 2 :P

Quote
So, looking at that idea, if you're not very heavily into the G/N aspect of things, but high on Fidelity, perhaps you're either in denial of your G/N desires or there for socialization.
Bzzt. Wrong answer. It's still a metagame priority of it's own. See above ansewer to Walt about how it doesn't matter that you're "not making" the G/N decision.

Quote
A third aspect that may come into play is basing your actions off of social approval of others, in which case the G/N decisions are more based on the preferences of the group, or specific individuals within the group.
Again, it's always possible that this drives your motives, but we're not getting into motives, just behaviors, and the incoherency that they can cause.

Quote
If we're talking good stuff like GURPS, the classic high sim, no filler game, then what we're talking about is a High Fidelity game, that has room for drift from slight to gross drift towards G/N.
This is precisely the problem and strength of GURPS , it requies drift on that axis to enjoy it. So the players decide where to put it on that axis. If everyone's on the same sheet of music, then you'll have a coherent game. Otherwise not. Note that as written I feel that GURPs is a little to the Gamist side on that axis. Points do that, IMO. Drop the points and it becomes very, very neutral on the Conflict axis.

Quote
Functional/Dysfunctional- It would seem that play is more functional when the group as a whole is playing in nearby coordinates on that X,Y,Z map.
I think each player has a "stretch" limit on each axis. That is, they'll only accept play that's so far to either side of their preference on each axis. This results in an ovoid of acceptable play on the plane. This is only the elementary view. Your ovoid will distend or retract for certain things. For example, if other players are in conflict about play that's problematic for them both, but not for you, you'll probably retract back into one of their ovoids to try and resolve the problem (siding). Complex in action no doubt, and ever changing.

Quote
... distance between emphasis of G/N and Fidelity can cause problems.
This is just basic GNS. System matters in this particular way. Nothing new there (little of this is really new).

Quote
Single Mode/Hybrid- I think this model perfectly encapsulates the G/S, N/S sorts of gaming.  Observe range from the Pool, TQB, Inspectres, octaNe, Dust Devils, Sorcerer, and TROS, as a range of Low to High Fidelity sorts of games in the Nar range.
That's what I'm thinking. My case to Walt above explains how as people get far out on the Conflict axis, they tend to have to dip occasionally on the Fidelity axis. This is Ron's "subordinate Sim" in action.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 08:56:33 AM
Second post in a row again.

Quote from: cruciel
The metagame priority occuring in those examples isn't verisimilitude - it's what would make for the most interesting sequence of events.  But, because prioritizing engagement in the charm of the sequence of events doesn't spring from a moral or ethical question it isn't Nar.  I like action movies and pop fiction, not cinema and literature - that distinction pushes me into the Sim category by process of elimination only.  
But in a moment, Ron would be along to tell you that this is, in fact Narrativism. That you're conflating the literature definition with something more flighty. Well, we don't have to debate this under my model. You can accept that it's:

Quote
High Fidelity|Story Now.
The problem that Ron has is that, with traditional power structures in designs is that the player doesn't usually have the power to go to the "story now" end of the Conflict spectrum. The Impossible thing is not that you can't have "High Fidelity|Story Now" it's that you can't have "story now" if the GM has all the power, because the player isn't empowered to make such a decision. He has to stick to the Fidelity axis only in which case High is the only rational choice (or, for the Narrativist player who's bored, you might see sloppy play).

So I think we're very much in agreement.

I'm sure that Ron is waiting for this to become much more concrete before he comes on with commentary. I think that's the other shoe we're all waiting to drop.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 30, 2003, 08:59:56 AM
Speaking of the Devil:  Mike,

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Jason, I'm going to leave most of your thoughts about Narrativism alone, and let Ron or somebody else respond to them if they feel like it. Because my new model doesn't challenge Ron's definition of Narrativism, but as it happens, it does reconcile the problems that you're seeing, I think. At the very least, I think it makes it easier to look at.


This approach does solve my problems with the distinctions between Sim and Nar.  Unfortunately it doesn't solve my problem with Nar.  I'm left wondering where the 'I care not about challenge nor Ergi' axis is.

Quote
Here's why. The problem that I see with people trying to disect where the divergence occurs between Char Sim and Char Nar, for example, is that when it's Nar, people are usually playing up the "what would my character do" aspect. This is why Ron always tells me that my examples are incorrect, and why it's hard to delineate the line. Examples don't work precisely because what one does is to prioritize both at the same time. Ron says that all action must be Plausible. Well that just means that there's some element of Fidelity inherent in every decision. Dividing that out into it's own priority doesn't say that this is not true. But it does make it hard to think about which is "more" prioritzed in most situations. I would say that they're often both given high priority.


I agree fully with this.  Authorial power allows you to adjust the definitions of plausible while maintaining Character Exploration, such that you never have to make a choice between pausibility and story - they spring from each other and are the same entity.

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Nothing in there goes against any of the current theory you'll find. So what I'm presenting is what I think is a superior model for how to look at these things.


No, I agree it doesn't - I just think it might be rather limitting not to go against the current theory.

Quote
Yes, but it's key so we'll have to work on that. See, that axis I see as the "what the player expends his power to decide upon axis". That is, if I make a decision, I can make it "to win" or "to be dramatic". These are truely mutually exclusive. That is, the decisions to do one or the other, though they may look similar, have such different mental approaches to the game that they can't be the same at one time. Hence why when it does become apparent what the thought process is, those that prefer one over the other have problems with the other. The Roll playing Vs Role Playing thing in action. So this still needs its own axis to define that incoherency.


I had this weird little train of thought.  It went like this:  
challenge versus story...hmm, no
intellectual versus emotional...hmm, no
challenge versus 'wouldn't it be neat if...'...hmm
challenge versus aesthetics...hmm
art versus science, hmm, maybe...

Where I finally stopped was primary engagement of left brain versus primary engagment of right brain.  Or, the axis being role-playing as a creative exercise versus a logical exercise.  This left the Fidelity axis as the axis reflecting the importance of disbelief suspension.  As an analogy:  we might define paintings of ducks and other realistic artwork as High Fidelity|Creative and purely abstract games like checkers as Low Fidelity|Logical.

Anyway, that's how all this has me thinking.  I find it much easier to define my priorities using this approach than Nar/Sim allows.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Emily Care on May 30, 2003, 09:02:36 AM
Good discussion, folks.

Quote from: cruciel

Explore + Nar
Explore + Gam
Explore + Nar
Explore + Gam


So we are saying both that a game that only prioritizes exploration doesn't exist, and that all exploration is fidelity to some referent?

(Thanks for introducing fidelity as a term, Chris. I championed it in this (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5479) thread a while ago, and somehow verisimilitude came more into vogue. :)

And another related question I have is, if fidelity is equated with exploration, then how can fidelity be a metagame goal? Or are we throwing that out?  Are all goals metagame now? Am I being clear?

A way of looking at this all that's been rattling around in my head, has been that there are multiple metagame goals: fidelity of the various sorts, narrativism, challenge, social standing, personal exploration, education, etc., any of which can be a primary goal of play and which may be more or less encouraged by given sets of mechanics or system elements.   If instead we go with saying that some sort of fidelity is included in all play, and there really are only two other goals (nar/gam) where does everything else fit in? I believe Mike placed Social at a step higher than gns, which is always true: any rpg occurs within the context of social interaction.  But what if the particular goals that may be social or psychological in nature take pre-eminence? Are gamism and narrativism avenues through which these goals may themselves be reached?


yours in thought,
Em


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 09:11:09 AM
Quote
Anyway, that's how all this has me thinking.  I find it much easier to define my priorities using this approach than Nar/Sim allows.
And that's one primary goal. I also hope it does the same for Gamism/Sim. And a bunch of other things. Like I'm hoping that this rectifies some things so that Marco (and guys like Baugh and Kim) doesn't see his POV as marginalized by the theory. Not that this is PR, just that I think this model rectifies what were previously conflicting POVs. To an extent.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on May 30, 2003, 09:19:27 AM
Hi Emily,

please take credit then, I vaguely recall the word coming from somewhere, just wasn't sure where!

I believe that all of these goals are "metagame" goals if you want to put it that way.  Consider that you can play the Pool as free form-y light as a trip through someone's mind, with very little genre expectations set up to hold fidelity to, or you could run a gritty Chicago crime thriller, with high Fidelity.  While the Pool is flexible like that, you can also see that kind of Drift in D&D and even as far as GURPS, depending on who you're playing with.

Quote
A way of looking at this all that's been rattling around in my head, has been that there are multiple metagame goals: fidelity of the various sorts, narrativism, challenge, social standing, personal exploration, education, etc., any of which can be a primary goal of play and which may be more or less encouraged by given sets of mechanics or system elements. If instead we go with saying that some sort of fidelity is included in all play, and there really are only two other goals (nar/gam) where does everything else fit in?


I think we need to remember that GNS(and Horseshoe 2, or whatever we're going to call this thang heah), is below that social dealy, as you said.  So when we're talking Social Standing, depending on the group, that could equate to higher Fidelity, more Gamism/Narrativism, or the opposite direction.  Consider these statements as social cues of the group:

"Dude! That can't happen! That's too unrealistic!"
"Man, you're taking the game too seriously..."
"You know, if you guys used better tactics, this wouldn't happen!"

Etc.  Each one of those statements is basically a request asking that someone up or lower the Fidelity, shift more towards G or more towards N, or something else on that chart.

Quote
But what if the particular goals that may be social or psychological in nature take pre-eminence? Are gamism and narrativism avenues through which these goals may themselves be reached?


I think you've hit it on the head there.  Challenge/Fidelity are just means through which those other goals are reached.

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 30, 2003, 09:21:09 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
But in a moment, Ron would be along to tell you that this is, in fact Narrativism. That you're conflating the literature definition with something more flighty. Well, we don't have to debate this under my model.


Aye, ok...I'll let this drop off until Ron or someone can clarify for me.  Realistically, looking at the current definition of Nar and Gam doesn't hurt this approach much.  So, it may be irrelevant at the moment.  I just can't help but feel there is some sort of GNS defense mechanism in the definition of Nar.  

Exaggerated example:
Nar is about Story Now.
What's Story mean anyway?  You can't have Story in the other modes?
Err, nevermind it's about moral or ethical questions.
Ok, I get that, what if it isn't about Premise, but is still about Story Now.
It's Sim.  Go away.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 30, 2003, 09:22:35 AM
It seems like the Big Question getting asked right now is whether a game can live on Fidelity alone. As often happens, I think design and play are getting confused a bit.

A game can be designed for Fidelity alone. We've seen it many times. GURPS, for example, is designed for Fidelity alone, as is BESM and Fudge, I'd purport. Notice all of these games consider themselves "generic" systems.

There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going. (I expect protest to this remark, but I stand by it. No game can stand play with only Fidelity.) This does not mean the above games are bad, or unplayable. It's always been acknowledged that Theme and Challenge can arise from the social structure of play, and in fact, the social structure is the primary provider of these two. Rules can focus this, and help mightily, but without the social structure of either Theme or Challenge, they won't happen. In this case, a group who has a clear social impetus, and enjoys play with high Fidelity, will add Challenge or Theme to a Fidelity-only game, moving it to fit their group.

I really like this new model that's emerging, by the way. It has the following advantages:

- Games that I couldn't really fit into GNS fit great here. I understand GURPS in a new way.
- This model would be incredibly hard to use to label people. Any -isms can turn into -ists real fast.

Also, I edited out a huge part of this post when I realized it was moving off topic. I'm quoting it here, because I think there were some good ideas in it.

Quote

First, let me talk about a new model for design and play. If we use an axis-type model, you end up with a two-dimensional surface, with one axis of Fidelity and another of Challenge/Theme. You have to wonder - if Fidelity crosses the Challenge/Theme axis at the midpoint, what does that midpoint represent? It makes sense to have it represent a null - a space in which Challenge and Theme are reduced to nothing. Moving left of that point, Challenge is continually raised, and moving right, Theme is raised. In this model, Challenge and Theme are mutually exclusive.

Can that happen, though? Are Challenge and Theme mutually exclusive? I'm not sure, but if I have to offer an opinion, I'd say no. I certainly feel Challenge when trying to determine what tactics to use in the Riddle of Steel, and I've gotten serious Theme pay-off when that Challenge was met and defeated.

Challenge and Theme, while not being mutually exclusive, are not necessarily conducive to each other, though. In my above TRoS example, the Challenge is not a huge part of my play: it exists as a small, discrete part that is enjoyable, but not the focus. If they are not necessarily conducive, you could construct a model with three axes, all moving out from a singular point. A coherent game would "hug" one of the axes, and a game which did not hug one of the axes, but struck out into the middle ground would be "out there," or hard to use in play.

(It stands to note that by saying that Challenge is only a very small part of my example, I reduce it to not really being an instance of play, as recently defined, and could eliminate it, meaning I've just talked in circles.)


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 09:26:56 AM
Quote from: Emily Care
So we are saying both that a game that only prioritizes exploration doesn't exist, and that all exploration is fidelity to some referent?
All play is exploration, so I don't quite ascribe to Jason's equivalences. The question of Fidelity has to do with some rather specific things. Like Realism for example. Not a neccessary part, but if one is prioritizing any sort of realism highly, it's High Fidelity.

Quote
(Thanks for introducing fidelity as a term, Chris. I championed it in this (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5479) thread a while ago, and somehow verisimilitude came more into vogue. :)
Cool. I thought it sounded familiar.

Quote
If instead we go with saying that some sort of fidelity is included in all play, and there really are only two other goals (nar/gam) where does everything else fit in?
As with GNS, these priorities are all something that doesn't seem to cause friction in a game. GNS and this version only seek to find that friction. It's not a model of all priorities, just those that conflict notably.

Quote
I believe Mike placed Social at a step higher than gns, which is always true: any rpg occurs within the context of social interaction.  But what if the particular goals that may be social or psychological in nature take pre-eminence? Are gamism and narrativism avenues through which these goals may themselves be reached?
Social goals inform the decisions certainly, and can over-ride. But no matter what the decision, it still falls on the plane somewhere. And where it falls will determine it's compatibility to other players.

One could develop a theory of how using Player political values to make decisions would be annoying to some other players (Politically Correct play). But that's not a common enough source decision making to be endemic to all decisions. Which means that such decisions can be discussed in terms of being Narrativist, and how that will affect play typically. But it'll require it's own theory as to how often it's problematic to people who don't like politics or something.

Put it this way, all other priorities seem to come second to these two axes in terms of potency and fecundity to cause problems as far as I've seen. Hence the reason the theory was invented waaay back as GDS.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 09:32:25 AM
Two posts again.

Quote
I just can't help but feel there is some sort of GNS defense mechanism in the definition of Nar.  


There is, and it's precisely what this model ommits. In fact, with this model you could almost define the Narrativist end of the spectrum as anything "non-challenge" oriented. Almost. That's how wide Ron has been trying to intimate Narrativism is, but has to hedge on the power issue as it relates to creation of story.

Again, the definition isn't really changing, it's just hopefully becoming more easily accessible.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on May 30, 2003, 09:37:10 AM
Hi Clinton,

Quote
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.


I can only agree with you there.  High Fidelity play alone, doesn't hold for me.  It's part of my personal love/hate with Sim designed games.  They have an excellent engine for drifting either way G/N, but usually fail to provide enough impetus to really to either well without some drift.

To give some concrete examples- this is how I feel about M&M.  An excellent game, but it definitely requires a solid push one way or the other in terms of bringing up a conflict, and pushing it in play(although it definitely has G leanings).  Likewise with Savage Worlds.  I was lamenting that High Fidelity "universal" systems simply lack the necessary mechanics to empower G/N play without some signficant Drift.  Again, this doesn't make them bad games, simply toolkits that need a little extra assembly to fly.

An important question to ask, is, is G/N going opposite directions on a single axis as some have suggested, or are they X/Y perpendicular to each other?  As I said, I enjoy G/N play, and can say over a session, I may have made several decisions along both lines, but I can't say to have made decisions that fulfilled both simulatneously.

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 09:45:31 AM
Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.
From a purely theoretical standpoint I'd disagree. Some whacky player could do this. I just think that it's irrelevant to the theory. If they do then the decisions will fall on the Conflict plot somewhere, and that's where they'll count.  

Quote
In this case, a group who has a clear social impetus, and enjoys play with high Fidelity, will add Challenge or Theme to a Fidelity-only game, moving it to fit their group.
Right. They'll either play in some agreed upon Conflict axis territory, or they'll have dysfunction.

Quote
- This model would be incredibly hard to use to label people. Any -isms can turn into -ists real fast.
Hadn't thought of that. That said, I was just going to say to Jason that I too tend to make decisions in the Hi-Fi/Nar corner. Slipping to the non-nar when I need to rectify. But, hey, that's more of a behavioral dscription, so I think it does help.

Quote

Can that happen, though? Are Challenge and Theme mutually exclusive? I'm not sure, but if I have to offer an opinion, I'd say no.
This is actually quite important. These priorities are not mutually exclusive from a player perspective. But in the end, it's what the fighting's all about. That is, where the decisions are percieved to land is where the dissociation occurs. I'd go so far as to say that it doesn't actually matter why you made a decision and what your priorities are. It's what others percieve that's important.

Ever notice how incoherence is never an issue in solo play? ;-)

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In my above TRoS example, the Challenge is not a huge part of my play: it exists as a small, discrete part that is enjoyable, but not the focus. If they are not necessarily conducive, you could construct a model with three axes, all moving out from a singular point. A coherent game would "hug" one of the axes, and a game which did not hug one of the axes, but struck out into the middle ground would be "out there," or hard to use in play.
I think I disagree with this, but agree that it's probably tangential. Another thread if this one works out.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 09:51:14 AM
Two posts in a row.

Quote from: Bankuei

Quote
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.


I can only agree with you there.  High Fidelity play alone, doesn't hold for me.  It's part of my personal love/hate with Sim designed games.  They have an excellent engine for drifting either way G/N, but usually fail to provide enough impetus to really to either well without some drift.
Again, I'm going to call this a preference. One that I believe that almost all players share, but a preference nonetheless.

In fact, I'd simply say that, given power to go off on the Conflict axis, players will tend to do so. I mean, why not? These axes do not conflict. So it doesn't hurt my Fidelity to go off on the Conflict Axis. If a particular decision would, I can always retract to the center for that one decision if I have that as a strong priority.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 30, 2003, 10:06:32 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes

In fact, I'd simply say that, given power to go off on the Conflict axis, players will tend to do so. I mean, why not? These axes do not conflict. So it doesn't hurt my Fidelity to go off on the Conflict Axis. If a particular decision would, I can always retract to the center for that one decision if I have that as a strong priority.


Mike,

I can't seem to find where you came up with the term "Conflict Axis," but it's solid. In any game, you can decide "What's my conflict about? Is it about the theme or about challenge?"

Damn, this is working out. New ideas are popping like fireworks in my head. One of them: in a game, a point is set on the Conflict Axis for how the game is played by the group. That doesn't mean in individual points they don't stray from that, though: just that the average of the points equals the group's decided way to play. So, if we're playing with some Theme, a little Challenge added in hurts no one, as long as it doesn't skew the numbers so much that we've moved our "center point."

And this explains why I love a game like the Riddle of Steel, where I get all sorts of Challenge that is averaged out by the high amounts of Theme.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 30, 2003, 11:16:19 AM
Clinton, bingo. Note how some players are more uncomfortable with the SAs. This is because they don't see them in terms of the Conflict axis, they think that they have something to do with the Fidelity axis. And to an extent they do have some impact (for a player who prefers their Fidelity to be physics based, they might see SAs as dipping way low on that axis). If they were just to see them in the light of the element that makes the game's Theme decisions fun, then they'd probably not object. As Ron says, the only thing that prevents players from shifting back and forth on that axis is not knowing what the goal is. TROS shifts the goal back and forth so that you have fun with each end, IMO. SAs drive Thematic decisions (like who to fight), which then gives you power to make Challenge decisions (like how to fight).

Chris (Bankuei) suggested "Conflict Axis", and it works perfectly with what I'm describing.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on May 30, 2003, 11:00:29 PM
Called on the carpet; let me respond.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: quoting what I
...war games...we're not asking either whether the opponent is going to have moral issues about a particular approach or which approach is strategically best for the opponent, but given what we know about the opponent, what strategy is he most likely to use?
But how are these not the same? I mean, a good simulation will make it difficult to use unrealistic solutions. So in the end, good Gamism is usually congruent with good Sim.

You can probably try to treat them as the same; you can in essence say that the personalities of the commanders are limits within which the player must operate. However, I maintain that there is a difference between play in which the players move the forces in that manner which is tactically best and that in which they account for the characters (=personalities) of the field commanders who have to make the moves.

One of the problems I had with the Lord of the Rings Bookcase Game, as I recall it distantly in my memory, is that the Sauron player had a "traitor" card. The point of the card was so that the Fellowship player couldn't know that Saruman was going to be the traitor--the Sauron player could have picked Gandalf, or even Frodo, as the person who would take the ring to him on his first opportunity to do so, so that if the Fellowship player entrusted the ring to that character the game was lost. My problem with that is the feeling that Gandalf wouldn't do that. You might think it's a narrativist problem, but it isn't--it's a question of the fidelity of the character to his personality and principles. It's ultimately a simulationist concern, and in this context, it's a conflict between gamism and simulationism. It's because I can't accept Gandalf as the traitor that the game doesn't work for me. It's not true to who Gandalf is.

We could debate for hours whether Gettysburg would have gone otherwise had commanders acted differently; but below that debate (which we could settle in quite gamist fashion by setting it up and playing it out) there's another issue: how much differently from the way they acted could they have acted, and still been true to who they were? We could play that wargame with all of us playing all sides, deciding together what each unit is most likely to do, given its nature, the character of its commander, the information they have available, and the changes we've made. We could really be playing it to find out how it would have come out with just this one change, with no gamist nor narrativist impulses involved. What would Pickett have done were it not for that order? What would Lee have done had he better intelligence on the Union artillery? We can play this just to see how it comes out, with no desires to influence that on the part of any player. You could play such a game all by yourself. Maybe I'm crazy; I sometimes play Bridge all by myself, because I'm curious about how the game works and don't have three other players. I'm playing to learn about the game. I could play to learn about Gettysburg or Normandy, with no desire to bring anything to this event other than what would actually have happened.

And, like WOPR, I could play Global Thermonuclear War a thousand times just to see if there's any winning strategy. That's not gamist play. That's pure discovery.
Quote from: Mike then
The real test would be if there were a game where players just played aliens on an alien planet, and no conflict occured. You were just presented with typical day to day stuff, and were told to "react" appropriately. I can see it thoeretically, but it would be totally original to RPG play.

I do this all the time. It doesn't even seem strange to me.

The example which leaps to mind is well known to all Multiverser referees; it's called The Zygote Experience, is referenced in the rules and found in The First Book of Worlds, and garnered from Justin Bacon the words, "This, undoubtedly in my mind, is something that no one else has ever had the guts to try before." The player character, having been gruesomely killed in one world, comes back as a zygote--an unborn child at the instant of conception--and then experiences growth possibly for several game sessions until suddenly he is born. No one ever tells him what is happening in an out-of-game sense; all he has is that information which amounts to this is what it would be like if you were conscious of your entire pre-birth experience. After that, you're a baby, and you grow up through being a child. Maybe after a dozen game sessions or fifty game sessions, depending on how it plays, you're all grown up. It can't be narrativist, really, and it can't be gamist. It is strictly about the experience itself, and you've got to go through a lot of that experience before you're even able to drift it to gamism or narrativism.

I've also seen play that was quite specifically simulationist in worlds that had strong gamist or narrativist potential. The first person who played in Orc Rising, a world which confronts players squarely with issues of slavery, colonialism, and racial terrorism, quite specifically ignored all of that and just wandered around discovering the world without confronting it on any level.

Multiverser player characters are said to develop a "theory of the verse", an explanation of why these places exist and why they're in them. That theory then in turn informs what they do in those places. A player character who believes it's all madness or hallucination will act one way, another who believes he's Odin's chosen warrior preparing for Ragnorak will act another, a third who believes God has chosen him to make a difference in these worlds will act yet a different way. Among the first test players, before I was involved, was a guy named Sean Daniels. Sean's "theory of the verse" was very interesting. He decided that somehow versers had been thrown out of reality into the realm of human fiction, a realm in which all the stories ever told were happening. As such, all he ever did was watch stories unfold around him. Sometimes those stories dragged him along. If he followed Jack up a beanstalk, he might find himself fighting to help Jack, or fleeing from the giant; but he wasn't looking to have his own adventures--he was an observer, and that's how he played, only becoming involved when the story closed in around him.

So I see this kind of play all the time; sometimes I even play this way.
Quote from: Mike also
Note how the central feature of most RPGs is some sort of conflict resolution system.

I think that's a mischaracterization. In Multiverser, we've got a task resolution system which also handles conflict. I think a lot of games are like this. Even with those which have a separate combat system, it's frequently not set up as a conflict resolution mechanic but a task resolution mechanic. Looking at OAD&D, when I roll the hit roll, I'm not really rolling to determine how the conflict is resolved; I'm rolling to see whether I hit him, that is, whether the task is successfully completed. OAD&D actually is very poor at conflict resolution. There is no mechanic for determining whether the opponent flees or surrenders, no way of knowing whether some of the enemy are going to push others forward to protect themselves, nothing to tell you how brave these adversaries are. It's tacitly assumed that all monsters attack when encountered and fight to the death. Conflicts are not resolved; tasks are.

Alyria has a genuine conflict resolution system; and it's probably the most narrativist game I've played (although I've not yet played Sorcerer). Whatever you actually do to win the conflict is really color in the narration; the outcome of the conflict is determined by the die rolls, and even then whether you were successful in what you were attempting is entirely left to the narration. A character could perhaps say that in the current conflict he was going to draw his sword and stab his adversary, and then win a close die roll, and narrate it that he didn't draw blood but merely swung the sword threateningly with the result that the other stepped away, backed down, or fled. Conflict resolution is very different from task resolution, and few games have it.
Quote from: He further
As soon as you have Conflict, you have players using their powers to go Gamist or Narrativist.

You might; you might also have players using their powers to assure that their personal preferences for success or story do not influence the outcome of the situation. What would this character actually do in this situation can be a fully simulationist position (although I'll admit it is not always so).

Jason challenged my statement that an attempt to emulate genre (such as action movies) was in fact simulationism, and that he gets pushed into the simulationist chategory solely because he's not interested in either gamism or narrativism. My challenge, really, is what is it that interests him? Certainly you can set up an action movie world in which players have gamist priorities; you could also set up such a world in which players have narrativist priorities. If all you want to do is experience what it would be like to be a character in such a world, you're doing simulationism. If you're using that background as the setting in which you're going to do incredible deeds and beat the villains and become the hero, you're probably doing gamism.

The verisimilitude in such worlds actually includes what would make the most interesting sequence of events. This is not a narrativist priority; it's an exploration of what can be done within these parameters.

You're not simulationist because you don't fit in either other category; you're simulationist because you want the game to produce an experience based on a definition of reality and without reference to any manipulation external to that reality. That reality may certainly include neat things.

An example of this could be a Bond-like simulationist experience. Because it's simulationist, we're not worried about giving the player too much power; thus during the course of play the player can invent Q-type gadgets which fit within the genre for Bond to use in the current fix. Sure, in the movies we see all these at the beginning of a Bond film; but we didn't always see them all at the beginning of Man from Uncle or Get Smart or even Inspector Gadget--they were sprung on us at the appropriate moment. So we give the player this power, to create devices and define what they do provided they're within the limits of the agreed reality. Bond is on the American sub and asks the commander whether it's equipped with such-and-such gadget which he's read about in a Soviet handbook (there's a real movie example--an on-the-spot gadget solution to a plot point). So at the critical moment the player can create something that enables his character to escape the danger. This isn't gamist; it's part of the agreed reality that the spies always escape the danger, and the interesting part is how they do it. It's not narrativist; we aren't creating a story that explores any moral or ethical principles. But it's not simulationist by default; it's aggressively simulationist. It uses positive principles to create the feeling of its reality, so that we can experience that reality. It has nothing to do with "not being one of the other two". It is what it is, quite proactively.

Does that make sense?

--M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 31, 2003, 07:52:52 AM
This is long, an actual play example, and only mostly on topic.  I won't cry foul if the moderators think it would be appropriate to relocate it.

M.J.,

Well, if we're gonna get all examply, I'm gonna throw out an actual play example that I believe is Hi-Fi|Story Now, but is not quite Nar and not quite Sim.  You be the judge.

Let's think of a Genevieve example, 'cause the Vieve-ster always has something interesting for me to analyze.  For the moment naughty words are on (realism, genre, story, etc), 'cause it'll be what I'm thinking.  I'm also not going to bother to introduce any characters, because I suspect I'll be writing a bit of a book anyway.  Players are in {}:  Genevieve {Jason}.

This all happened during the post game wind-down period - the time after {Al} goes home and everybody else either chit-chats in character or analyses/bitches about the session (dependent upon how well the session went).  Nothing too important ever happens, but a lot of character relationships get fleshed out.  This particular time something happened.  I had fallen asleep on the floor in an awkward position when someone says, "Jason, Luccia {Eric} slept with Caspian {Tara}"..."Oh, shit".

The Vieve-inator and Caspian have had this growing romance.  It's been pretty slow, she's pretty closed off, and doesn't much care for being touched.  Luccia is the space slut.

Anyway, how we got to this point (As previously stated, my ass was passed out...but this is the tale I got):
Caspian and Luccia being the close buds they are were hanging out.  Luccia started to badmouth Gilgamesh {Paul}.  {Eric} thought it would be dandy if Luccia's com was bumped so Gil overheard.  Gil overhead that, and the beginnings of Luccia turning her closet crush into making incredibly aggressive sexual advances towards dear old Caspian (the jury is still out on whether it was force or not)...  Gil is a little shit, but a dear friend of Genevieve, so what does he do...  Well, {Paul} decides Gil has to tell someone, but not until later.  He'll be busy, everything will get nice and complicated by the time he gets around to spilling the beans...

Ok, now they wake me up.

Now I'm thinking, "Whoa this can go any number of terrible ways.  She had just taken what she considered very serious steps towards Caspian.  If this had only happened two sessions ago it wouldn't be an issue.  Oh well, we're screwed now.  It all depends on who tells her and how they do it.  All the characters are pretty fond of her, and not of Luccia - so setting her on fire or something would break that.  Hmmm...something weak and girly, make 'em feel real bad about it."

{Paul} thought it would be most amusing to tell Genevieve's visiting sister, Luir {Me Again}.   Well, shit.  Luir doesn't care too much for Luccia, competition for her sister's bright future and all.  Guess I'll have her go confront her...Ooooo, I've been waiting for an excuse to make Luir really detest Luccia.

Luir ejects Caspian from the room and the yelling begins.  {Eric} says Luccia pulls a weapon (rash and violent she is), so Luir conjures up a sword.  The scene degrades into violence as Yama {Eric}, Mercedes {Rene}, and Gil show up on the scene (because the players wanted them to, all specific different motivations I suspect).  It finally ends with Dusk {Me, Yet Again} - Luir's familiar, and eye of frost shaped like a girl - freezes most everybody (our little eye-girl has quite the high roll).  Now why did I try this, it'd gotten to be a bit of a cluster fuck and Luccia had sucked some life out of Luir.  Well, Luir and Dusk are linked - hurt one you hurt the other.  'K, perfectly good motivation to try to end this conflict now before a character actually gets nigh-killed and the focus of the story changes over to the conflict with Luir/Luccia.  Let's get back on track.  Genevieve has the problem here. This other thing is getting messy.

Heh.  There is a little OOC talk about what happened, {Eric} says something about how it was all Luir's fault...  Player conflict, hold on.

Eric:  "But, she had a sword.  Luccia was just defending herself."  
Me:  "Well, she wouldn't have had a sword if you hadn't brought out the cyber-weapons.  Besides, she only threatened you with it.  You sucked the life out of her.  Succubus."
Eric:  "But, I didn't draw a weapon."
Me "Yes, you did nancy-pants.  You said it very clearly without stuttering."
Paul:  "He's right you did say that."
Tara:  "Yeah, but he took it back."
Eric:  "Yeah, I took it back."
Me:  "You did what?"
Rene:  "You didn't take it back."
Me:  "Err...fine, what do you want to have happened?"
Eric: "She didn't draw the arm blades."
Me: "'K, no sword then."
Eric: "Then no life drain.  And Yama only attacked because Luir had a sword."
Me: "Then no fight; therefore no Yama, Mercedes, or Gil; therefore no being frozen."
Everyone Else:  "Then what happens?"
Me:  "Well, I guess she yells at her and leaves.  No one else is involved."
Everyone Else:  "That sucks."

I'm not certain exactly how many of these conversations I've had with {Eric}, but this certainly wasn't the first.  What the hell {Eric} was thinking. I have no idea.  I was thinking:  "Grr...smashy smash, damn you {Eric}, make up your frickin' mind.  It doesn't fit for Luir to be randomly violent and I don't want to screw up any of the character's relationships with her family.  I guess we'll have to change what happened."

Back to the story.  I think {Tara} had Caspian run off and hide...I can't quite recall.  Anyway, Luir talks to Gil and decides she's going to go tell Genevieve right now.  Tara was going to have Caspian tell her himself, but there was some reason why she didn't...Grr, damned memory.  Anyway, Luir breaks the news and Genevieve teleports home in the middle of the night.  Heh, bite me party format - I just went to a different planet.

This was the big important decision.  Why did I make it?  First off it would make for some damned interesting reactions in the morning.  Second, it was one of the options of things she would do.  The only other option that seems to fit at this point in her life was going into a blind rage and stabbing Luccia with a broken mirror.  I decided Luir broke the news in a fashion that led her to flight instead of fight...  It kept Luccia the bad guy, and seemed like the most interesting.

The next morning, through a series of conversations some of the crew finds out what happened and that Genevieve is missing.  Jeremiah {Tara} (the starship's pilot) promptly blinks to Mooravia (not the one on Earth, Genevieve's home world) - no discussion, no warning, just "We're leaving, you're in deep shit Luccia".

They found Genevieve in the consoling company of her family.  Jeremiah and Jet {Rene} go to see how she is doing - Jeremiah and Jet both get along really well with the royal family.  Some time passes, the character's talk amongst themselves - deciding what to do; wondering what's going on; trying to figure out how to keep the whole thing a secret from Genevieve's crazy, man-hating, arch-mage, grandmother lest she kill Caspian; etc.

At some point Luccia realizes she fucked everything up righteously.  How do we fix it?  Why, we try to enlist Gil's aid and conjure up a favor from the god of thought, so they all like me again.  Heh, there is very little Genevieve hates more than having her mind toyed with.  She figures out that she's been charmed, has it fixed, but doesn't find out who did it. These decisions were based on pissing her off even more, but not to the set Luccia on fire point.  I didn't want her to find out because that would completely trash her relationship with Gil.  Jet catches her during the midst of this and decides to give her a note from Luccia and some snotty comments.  They don't get along so well after that.

'K, so I could type out all the little details, but they aren't decision points and I've babbled enough already.

The next important point is when Genevieve decides she's going to stay behind.  This decision causes a bit of a chain reaction in later sessions.  Evil plans already brewing in my head.  I made it because Genevieve didn't really provide me with any other options, besides it was incredibly dramatic.  If she just got back on the ship the punch of the whole sequence would have been lost.  It would also have felt terribly contrived.  Everyone gets on the ship and leaves.  Everyone except Genevieve, Luir, and Zel {Yes, Me Again} (Genevieve's brother).  Luir stayed because she had to tend to her sister's first love-affair disaster.  Zel stayed for two reasons, he worships his sister and discord was growing between him and Jeremiah over Jet.  I decided to make Luir stay because I didn't have another option that fit the character.  I decided to make Zel stay because I was preparing for the next phase in his personal story.  I was also going to trade him out later for one of Genevieve's other brothers.

I could keep going on this particular chain of events, but that's the end of the session.

******

Well,  Sim?  Nar? or Neither?  I'm voting for Hi-Fi|Story Now, but you already knew that.

My stance is:  This isn't Nar because at no point do I give a crap about the moral or ethical implications.  This isn't Sim because I have an overt metagame agenda in many of my decisions that isn't verisimilitude, but is instead 'most interesting story.'

From my point of view, it seems to be all in the Author stance - it allows you syncronize Nar/Sim: Explore Sit|Char so they all feed off each other to create a consistent whole.  I believe that whole is a single priority - Hi-Fi|Story Now.  Honestly, I'm not convinced Author stance can be motivated by anything but a non-Sim metagame agenda.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on May 31, 2003, 10:43:46 AM
Doh! I think I forgot the most important part.

M.J.,

Yeah, you're making sense, but I don't precisely see it that way.  In my play experiences I see defining the consistent reality being motivated by story.  Maybe that's not quite right.  I see the story and consistent reality as homogeneous.  As an analogy, take the author who has a character that won't allow him to make certain decisions.  The character has a certain amount of aliveness that the author simply cannot fight without him becoming a different character.  The author still has roads he takes to develop the best story in the form of creating the situations surrounding the character.  The character may be an immutable Sim sorta thing, but everything around him is mutable - which makes the story mutable and prioritizable.  You could think of the character a constant, or a restriction placed on the bounds of the story.

Mike keeps saying this isn't anything new, just a different way of looking at what we have.  I agree with him (excluding my Nar contention/confusing/whatever it is).  This approach seems more concise and accessible for defining the way I play than the current divisions/hybrids.

EDIT:
Your examples (correct me if I'm wrong) seem like solid Actor stance examples.  In connection with my idea that Author stance must have a metagame priority other than verisimilitude, I would say that true Actor stance cannot have a priority other than verisimilitude.  What I think you have with Actor stance is then the center point (or Don't Care point) on the Conflict axis with High Fidelity.  At least, that's where I see what you're describing using this approach.  In contrast then, I suppose what you'd have at the center with Low Fidelity would be 'not playing'...I think.  (I'm having some deja vu here, didn't Walt and/or Chris already say something like this...oh well.)


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: jdagna on May 31, 2003, 12:47:20 PM
Quote from: cruciel
From my point of view, it seems to be all in the Author stance - it allows you syncronize Nar/Sim: Explore Sit|Char so they all feed off each other to create a consistent whole.  I believe that whole is a single priority - Hi-Fi|Story Now.  Honestly, I'm not convinced Author stance can be motivated by anything but a non-Sim metagame agenda.


I think I'm mostly in agreement with you, except I do think it's Sim.  In fact, about halfway through the story, I was thinking "Wait, this is just Author-stance Sim."

And I don't think Author stance is necessarily in conflict with Sim play.  Here's why: almost every single D&D character reaches a point where he's so rich, he could buy a kingdom and retire.  But instead he seeks out the tomb of so-and-so for another boatload of treasure and weapons, despite the obvious risk.

Now, Gam and Nar players don't have a problem with this.  Certain characters would make this choice even in Actor-stance Sim.  But a significant number of players choose to take the adventure, even though it doesn't entirely fit with their the only time I've ever seen a player retire such a character was when he wanted someting new to play with.

In other words, most Sim players are using Author stance to motivate their characters to continue adventuring.  Why? Because it's more fun than role-playing tax collection from the serfs and players want to have fun.  And the choice to retire the character is often an Author-stance Sim decision.  It can make sense for the character, but needs the player's impetus.

In your case, your desire for fun and drama was shaping the character's actions.  There was still a clear commitment to the character, and some reliance on Actor stance, but you knew that by encouraging certain reactions you could get the most drama rom the situation.  Of course, in this case, you were controlling multiple characters and it's almost impossible to operate strictly in Author stance with multiple characters (in my experience).


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 31, 2003, 02:09:24 PM
MJ, It seems to me that you're not reading the other posts. I've acceeded that one can make decisions that are neutral to the question of Gamism or Narrativism (challenge/theme, the Conflict axis). It's not that a player can't prioritze "sim". Quite the opposite. What I'm saying is that incoherence only occurs along one or the other axis. Simulationism does exist, and in this model is high fidelity, with neutral Conflict axis positioning.

Will this annoy the player who wants challenge to be the primary motivation of play? Sure. But not because the decisions are High Fidelity. That's the point. The decision is annoying because the player B percieves player A with his given power to win, not using that power to do so.

Basically, nobody ever said, "Man, you suck, that was way to realistic!"

What they object to (assuming a different preference), in the case of the example, is that either the player isn't responding well to a challenge, or he's not creating story. That is, that the player isn't with them on the Conflict axis.

Now, as I've said, I'll also admit that certain decisions only have mutually exclusive decisions in terms of which axis can be prioritized. But this is key. It's only certain decisions that have this quality. This is why Ron requires the "Instance of play" to note direction. What I observe, however in the Instance, is players going back and forth on both axes. But they do tend to be going for some position typically (including neutral).

OK, I'm just extending my point. I'd also like to point out that your example is unusual. I mean, you might think that it's "normal" play, MJ, but obviously the reviewer didn't. And most people would not. I've admitted that this sort of play can exist in other posts (even fought those who've said otherwise, like Clinton). The point is that this is simply a perfect example of the principle at work. That is, one can see that for Clinton, it's a requirement of play that one go off the neutral stance on the Conflict axis. For you it's not. Hence we see why we need this theory or GNS.

BTW, when I said Conflict resolution system, I just meant resolution system. If there is no conflict (and I mean this in a traditional sense as any two things that compete to produce an outcome incliuding any task), what do you roll for? A "true" non-conflict sim would never have a need to roll to see what comes out on top. It might have random rolls or systemic rolls for what's likely to happen, but you'd never have to consider a resolution system roll. The point is that, again, what constitutes conflict is in the eye of the "annoyed" party. So even your "perfectly sim" game must be on the chart somewhere.


The advantage of this theory is that it says that it's not that you're prioritizing Sim that's the problem that Clinton has with your example of play. It's that you're not getting off neutral on the other axis. At first glance this seems to be simply saying that GNS lies along one axis. But there's another important thing going on. And that's that it's now OK for the player to prioritize BOTH. That is, Clinton will have absolutely no problem with you  making HiFidelity/Challenge, or HiFidelity/Thematic decisions. He only has a problem with the narrow HiFidelity/Neutral category.

Further that there's a whole 'nother brand of incoherency that lies on the other axis.

In Ron's model, you have to be one of three things in effect, or hop between them resulting in play that was, in total, measurable as one of the three things. What I'm saying is that there are four things to be, and you can be any two of them consistently. HiFi/Nar play for eample, is not schitzoprenic, it's quite consistent. Ron's model didn't really deny that, but made it hard to imagine, IMO.

The other advantage of this model is that it is atomic. That is, it does deal with each individual decision, and the overall play can be detailed if one wishes as a an average of all the decisions made. I think that's a valid way to look at it. Because we all know and agree that only ocassionally is it a single decision that causes players to be annoyed with other players' play.

And most importantly is the implication for design. It means that instead of thinking in terms of whether the game is purely one of three modes, you look at where you stand on each spectrum.

Suddenly we can all agree that TROS is HiFi/Theme with moments of big HiFi/Challenge. That it's simply not Neutral ever on the conflict axis. No longer are there any questions about whether or not the Sim overpowers the Nar or vice versa. I think that given the game's design that it's not an issue.

When designing, you then ask what I think are the pertinent questions. How does the game support Challenge or Theme. And to what extent, and how do I want to support Fidelity. The first question is pretty standard, but the second one is not as often considered. That is, it's assumed that you have to give up some Fidelity to get theme or challenge. But then we're told that hybrids are possible. Well, how do you get a hybrid? This model has the answer. All games are hybrid in a manner of speaking, and this model requires you to answer the question "to what extent"? But in a way that has, I think, a more clear impact on play results.

I'm tentatively thinking of calling this the Conflict/Fidelity model (alphabetic listing of terms so that I can't be called biased). C/M for short. Does that make sense?

Are my clarifications logical? Any more problems?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 31, 2003, 02:19:04 PM
This post follows a more important one above.

Jason, Justin, I've always been of the opinion that the stances don't have a one to one relationship with anything. I think this model makes that more clear. That is, formerly it was hard to consider a thematic decision in terms of being made in Actor stance because the definition of that stance seemed almost identical with that of the presumed motives of the Sim mode. Same with Nar and non-actor stances.

In this model we see that Actor stance is one potential way to achieve HighFidelity, but that doesn't mean that it can't also be Theme. Which is what Ron's been saying for a long time to deaf ears. Similarly I've been saying that people don't recognize the extent of use of Author and Director in creating Hi Fidelity play. But the assumption seemed to be that these things supported Gam or Nar so powerfully that they weren't capable of supporting HiFi. But we see with this model that this assumption can't be true.

There will always be localized cases where these assumptions are true. But over time, they're demonstrably false. Which has it's most important repercussion in design where most decisions are made to promote an overall style as opposed to control of atomic decision making.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on May 31, 2003, 03:57:54 PM
Lots to address, and I'm hoping to run a game tonight, so I may be too brief on some of these points. I have indeed read every post on this thread, although I won't pretend I fully assimilated all of them before I posted--there's not enough time in one of these hot threads to do more than read through and respond, because if you give it time to cohere in detail there will be another half hour of reading to do before you can post.

Jason, I couldn't say for certain whether you're involved in simulationist or narrativist play; but I think your objection to narrativism is dissolving before my eyes. You say that it's not narrativist because it does not address a moral or ethical issue. I read over the entire story, and I see a story that is inherently about love, betrayal, and jealousy. How are these not moral/ethical issues? Clearly the questions raised are whether Genevieve had any right to expect Caspian to resist the wiles of Luccia given the state of their relationship, or conversely had any right to expect Luccia to respect Genevieve's interests there. Genevieve is acting in a way that says she expected them to treat her better, that what they did was unfair and personally insulting and offensive to her--and that's a moral position. Luccia is obviously acting in a manner that says she doesn't think she owes squat to Genevieve's interests, and can sleep with anyone she wants without regard for friendship--and that's a moral issue. Caspian's actions are a little less clear at this point. We can't be sure whether he thinks Genevieve has overreacted to him having a one-nighter with Luccia when any relationship he had with Genevieve was so tenuous, or whether he thinks he really messed up something wonderful that might have happened with Genevieve by allowing Luccia to seduce him--but either way, these are moral and ethical issues, matters about whether he has obligations to others and whether they have obligations to him. The whole story screams moral issue; it begs to have people decide whether the characters are treating each other well or poorly, fairly or despicably. There are certainly moral and ethical issues at the very heart of this story, and both the players and the characters appear to be exploring them.

Now, I think it's possible to "explore moral issues" in a totally removed fashion, in which case it would become sim. I can imagine some conservative moralist reading the latest pulp romances or viewing the latest popular films strictly to see what sort of morals are conveyed so he can decry them, without ever becoming intellectually involved in the books or the issues they actually do raise. So you might be doing a simulationist exploration of these issues. I don't think you are. I think you're doing narrativism. Yes, you ask what is realistic for your characters to do; but that's not counter to narrativism. I don't feel that at any point you chose things solely because they were the most likely thing for any character to do. You considered all the things your character might do, which were both possible within the setting and plausible given the characterization of that individual, and then chose the one you wanted to have happen for reasons which advanced the story and best addressed the core issues of love, betrayal, and jealousy.

So if this is your example of something that's not narrativist because it doesn't address a moral or ethical issue, I think your concepts of moral and ethical don't match those intended by the theory. Did I miss something?

Good story, by the way. It actually addresses moral and ethical issues better than some of the stories in my book. (I'm going to have to work on that.)

Mike, I think that there is gamist/simulationist incoherence and narrativist/simulationist incoherence.

The latter is easier to see, and in fact I see it in Jason's post.
Quote from: Jason a.k.a. Cruciel
The scene degrades into violence as Yama {Eric}, Mercedes {Rene}, and Gil show up on the scene (because the players wanted them to, all specific different motivations I suspect).
Now, how did those player characters all happen to show up at that moment? There's no indication that they heard the fight and came running. There's no indication that they (the characters) had any reason to go there such that they would stumble on these events. They appeared because the players wanted to have their characters involved in the story at this moment, not because there was any real reason, within the characters' world, that they would. A pure simulationist referee would have said that it is unrealistic for all of them to appear, possibly even for any of them to appear, because there is no reason for their characters to be going that direction. If they want to know whether in their random wanderings they stumble upon this fight, well, let's have a roll weighted with the probability that they would come here against every other place on the ship. Someone might happen to wind up in the cargo hold, someone else on the bridge, someone else in the galley--why here? Here because although it is poor simulation of reality, it makes a better story because it involves the player characters in the possibility of addressing the outworking of the central issue. I said, "That's not realistic enough; I don't believe it" when they all arrived.

In The Phantom there's a silly throwaway line in the narration, something to the effect of, Every movie is entitled to one great coincidence, and this is ours. Deciding when the coincidence happens because it gives players the opportunity to be involved in the exploration of the issue (and how is the fight between the characters, one of whom is loyally defending her sister's rights in a relationship the other has callously despoiled, not significant in the exploration of the issue?) is letting narrativism overide simulationism. It's saying that it's more important to us at this moment that we make this story better than that we seriously consider the plausibility of every character coming here where unbeknownst to them there's a fight happening.

Yes, you can have coherence between sim and nar, and between sim and gam, and both of those more easily than you can have it between gam and nar; but you can also have coherence between gam and nar, if trying to win is both the best move for the player and the best direction for the story. Not too long ago, probably in a thread on hybrids, I observed that in a save the universe scenario you can have total coherence, because doing your best to win is both the most realistic choice for the characters and the best choice for the story. What kind of story would Armageddon be if Bruce Willis' character said, "Heck with you, do you think I'm going to go up to that asteroid and be the only one who dies while everyone else lives?" It's not realistic for him to say that, it's not good story, and it's not the road to victory. Sure, there are moments in which one of the three might emerge--when Willis' character decides to stay on the asteroid to blow it up so that his daughter's fiance will be returned safely home to her, for example, is very narrativist and not very gamist. But such coherence overrides most of the incoherence in such accounts. Gam/sim conflict does occur, and so does nar/sim conflict, not so often as gam/nar conflict, but truly.
Quote from: Mike
Basically, nobody ever said, "Man, you suck, that was way to realistic!"
No? Sure they did; they just didn't use those words. They said, "Why didn't you shoot the guy before he got away?" "I didn't think it was something my character would have done." "Well, you probably cost us the game." That's a gamist/simulationist conflict. That's the gamist saying that the simulationist erred by being to "realistic" in relation to his character's identity.

Simulationism is a metagame priority which at times does conflict with the metagame priorities of gamism and narrativism. It does so less often, and it is usually less recognized when it does. That doesn't relieve it from being a conflicting metagame priority.

Now, I'm long on record in saying that players do move between priorities, and I'm quite happy with the notion that they will consider all three before making a decision--making a decision because, for instance, it brings them closer to victory, but first considering whether it's realistic under the circumstances and helps advance the exploration of the issue. But sometimes simulationism wins out over the other two, and sometimes one of the others wins, and that's why there are three. I think decisions can be hyridized in many ways. I still think that simulationism is a conflicting priority.

--M. J. Young


Title: Re: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: talysman on May 31, 2003, 07:42:06 PM
well, I guess I'm kind of late getting into this thread... and it's already swollen to four page! here's my quick round-up on thoughts about this thread.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
A while back, someone (please step forward whoever you are) that these things might be thought of as a couple of different axes. And over time, I've started to accept this more or less.


was it this post (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=44857#44857), Mike? of course, that post uses the axis more like a giant "T" than a beeg horseshoe...

I don't think Baseline/Vision describe the two extremes of the vertical axis of the "T"; as I understood the terms, Baseline + Vision = Setting + Situation + Chararact + Color ... in other words, the gameworld that the System is intended to impliment. Baseline would be the setting elements that pretty much go without need of explanation -- anything involving real-world physics and a known historical or cultural background. high-detail Sim games will include more Baseline detail, while low-detail Sim will have a few general rules to apply quickly to impliment anything in Baseline. Vision is the setting elements that violate the expectations of the Baseline, so they need to be explained; it's the "high-concept" part of a high-concept Sim.

what the vertical bar then represents is the degree of Fidelity (Emily Care's term) to the Baseline/Vision combo. the crossbar of the "T" is the Gamism/Narrativism or Conflict axis (Chris's term.) the balance between Baseline and Vision -- how much is "given" versus how much is unique to the setting -- form yet another descriptor, when using the scheme to categorize games. during actual play, Baseline/Vision do not matter, since it's not a decision players make from moment to moment, the way GNS decisions are.

now, as for the issue of whether it's possible to play a game with High Fidelity without tilting towards either Challenge or Theme on the Conflict axis... I think it is. stepping outside of RPGs for a moment into the realm of computer games, there's The Sims, which can be played with a conflict but can also be played "just to see what happens". I've sometimes rolled up random dungeons using the old AD&D tables, just to see what they would look like. I've also walked through the steps of creating a society in Aria. I would call those pure forms a pastime rather than a game, but you could definitely play with a group using rules to flesh out a world rather than tell a story or compete to reach some goal.

I think that brings me up to speed with the thread... my basic point is: I agree. the last few posts seem to be more about "is one particular example of play Sim or Nar?" perhaps I am too late for this thread, and all the major points of the Beeg Horseshoe Theory have already been debated, signalling the end of the thread.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on May 31, 2003, 09:33:35 PM
So this is what I'm picturing - Do I understand all this correctly?

(http://www.simplephrase.com/bh.jpg)

Games classified as Sim by the GNS model: this is a game whose mechanics focus on Fidelity and leave G and N up to the individual social contracts, or perhaps allows for either at the individual player's choice.  Hero, GURPS, Fudge fall on various levels of Fidelity and stick near the center of the Challenge axis.

Games classified as Gamist by the GNS model: these are games that  encourage/reward gamist decisions.  D&D3 is a Hi-Fi Gamist game.  Tunnels & Trolls is a Lo-Fi Gamist game.

Games classified as Narrativist by the GNS model: games that  encourage/reward thematic decisions and story creation.  Trollbabe is a Lo-Fi Nar game.  Riddle of Steel is a Hi-Fi Nar game.

This is next-level shit that I find significantly diggable.  As a theory it seems more palatable than GNS; it just clicks in my head better than GNS ever did.  Somebody going to make an article?  And what does Ron think of this?


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 01, 2003, 10:36:00 AM
M.J.,

Your analysis is very intelligent and spot on.  I'm still a little iffy on whether it's Sim or Nar, and have got a little more to say, but have responded in this (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6702) thread.

Justin, Mike:

I think you're right on the Stances.  I'm seeing patterns, but patterns to do make absolutes.

'K, back to M.J.,

Quote from: M.J.
Now, how did those player characters all happen to show up at that moment? There's no indication that they heard the fight and came running. There's no indication that they (the characters) had any reason to go there such that they would stumble on these events. They appeared because the players wanted to have their characters involved in the story at this moment, not because there was any real reason, within the characters' world, that they would.


You're right it wasn't  very realistic.  You can always identify it by the 'Can I hear that?' chorus, which is where the Author/Director stance modifications start to kick in and Fidelity gives way to something else.  I suspect everyone who showed up did so because the player wanted to be involved.  With the noted exception of Yama - I think he just showed up because Eric wanted to defend his other character with his giant, fire-breathing, cat/dog thing (is that Gamist, I dunno?).

I'd say in this particular instance Fidelity gave way for both Nar and Gam, with the specific decision left in the hands of each individual player.  I see this as just sliding down the Fidelity axis to widen the triangle at the bottom.  

Quote from: More M.J.

...snip...
No? Sure they did; they just didn't use those words. They said, "Why didn't you shoot the guy before he got away?" "I didn't think it was something my character would have done." "Well, you probably cost us the game." That's a gamist/simulationist conflict. That's the gamist saying that the simulationist erred by being to "realistic" in relation to his character's identity.

Simulationism is a metagame priority which at times does conflict with the metagame priorities of gamism and narrativism. It does so less often, and it is usually less recognized when it does. That doesn't relieve it from being a conflicting metagame priority.
...snip...


Using this approach I would define that particular conflict as the two players being at seperate points along the Fidelity axis.  Assuming for a second that both players are in identical positions along the Conflict axis (which I think is most likely impossible), the player that didn't shoot is more Hi-Fi.  Both players could be striving for victory, but the non-shooting-guy has higher confines placed upon his behavior because of his Fidelity position.  It seems to me more like a conflict of how much Sim instead of Sim vs Gam (not that that difference is anything but subtle).  So, I don't think this approach maginalizes the conflicts between Fidelity, Challenge, and Theme at all.  In fact I think it makes them easier to define because you can talk in terms of relativity.  If one player says another isn't being realistic, or one player says the other is taking the game world too seriously, we can say they have dissimilar Fidelity.  This is only a stray thought, but if you addressed dissimilar Fidelity first I think it might facilitate then accomplishing Nar/Gam Congruence.  Variable control on Fidelity may allow you to hang situations off it that both a Nar and Gam player could approach comfortably.  Though, I suppose this is neither here nor there - it just has me thinking.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 02, 2003, 07:58:04 AM
MJ, I agree with your analysis of Jason's play, FWIW. This all goes to Ron's "Oh shit, I'm playing Narratvist," section of the Sim essay. But just goes to show how thins model eliminates personal disagreement on what's happening in game. Without looking at the Fidelity angle as competitive, suddenly what's going on is more clear.


Again, we're not really disagreeing on the other points. Sim is a metagame priority. I've never said it wasn't. And I've also agreed that problems can occur between them in terms of such things as available decisions. I've just said that perceptually they don't compete in play.

Your example of what people say, "why didn't you shoot?" is a perfect example of the clarity of this new model. That is, players don't think in terms of these things conflicting. That is, the reason they never actually state what I said, is because they don't think in those terms. The "gamist" player is thinking in terms of using player power to compete. He's thinking along that axis. He's not concerned that the player's action is realistic. He's concerned that it's not playing to win.

Why the distinction? Because some players will expect both. Hi Fidleity/Challenge is also a valid way to play. So the player with that preference in fact expects the player's action to be realistic. He just expects the player to also be trying to win at the same time. It's the lack of the latter that's annoying.

Now, I've said repeatedly that a player may encouter points at which he can't have both HighFidelity and a HiChallenge response to a situation. And thus there is a potential conflict when he chooses one over the other. But it's precisely an understanding of both axes that's important, then. Has a LowFidelity tolerance been set? Then the player should make the more Challenge oriented response because there's no mandate to go High Fidelity.

This is key. Now we see that there's not only the traditional LowFi/Challenge style (which is oft berated as the "root" of Gamism; associated with Pawn stance), but a HiFi/Challenge style as well.

Keep in mind that there hasn't been any real changes from the original GNS theory. You can map one over the other. It's precisely a perceptual problem (several actually) that makes this version of the theory an improvement (IMO).

I agree with a lot of Jason's points regarding association with this model. Already he's been able to use it to define things in terms that (assuming you buy the model), seem pretty agreeble and intuitive.


Jon, that's not the post I was thinking of, sorry. Though I'm sure it reinforced my thinking on the subject, as did much of that thread.

Ethan, that's precisely what I envision for the plot. I don't want to privilege High Fidelity by placing it up, but it's intutive, and it also helps intuitively with the "gravity" effect that was mentioned. That is, I think of Fidelty as a bar to be achieved or exceeded. Whereas the other axis has balance across it in terms of effect.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Walt Freitag on June 02, 2003, 08:32:48 AM
There seeoms to be some confusion between the amount of something and the prioritization of something. This is understandable, as the word itself can be ambiguous. (If your boss tells you to prioritize recruitment, is she asking you to spend more effort on recruitment than you normally would, or is she asking you to make recrutiment your top priority above all other tasks? Probably depends on the boss.) But as I understand it, the prioritization referred to in GNS is always the relative variety. What is prioritized is what gets served when push comes to shove. In other words, it's the pushing and shoving, not the absolute amount of effort expended, that reveals priorities.

Simulationism is not fidelity.
Simulationism is not high fidelity.
Simulationism is (to a first approximation) the prioritization of fidelity.

The assertion of the square horseshoe is that fidelity does not conflict with Gamist or Narrativist concerns. But numerous examples raised in this thread show that sometimes it does. The admission that fidelity must be cranked down to accomodate really strong Gamist or Narrativist interests means that the rectangle has sloping sides. In my (geometry) book that makes it a triangle, dudes.

Which goes back to my earlier comparison. M.J. wants three independent dimensions, but if we accept that the dimensions are not entirely independent but must sum to the entirety of play (which we can normalize to a fixed value), we get a subspace that is a two-dimensional triangle. (If play has "more of everything" it's a bigger triangle but normalizing means we draw it the same size anyway.)

Ron has stated in the past that any GNS does not imply any particular shape or continuum, and that there is no practical way to characterize a decision as "x% S, y% G, z% N" which would appear to be a requirement for using a continuum model. But the length of a minimum instance of play (and the corresponding analytical irrelevance of individual decisions), the discusison of "supporting priorities" further described comparatively e.g. as "strong," and the foundational claim that all play has elements of all three modes all point in favor of a continuum.

Some points I'm coming away with from this thread so far are:

1. The idea that confliciting play priorities can be "along any axis" is useful, for any version of the model. That instead of saying "your G is getting in the way of my S," complaints will as likely take the form of "you're doing too much (that is, more than I want do support your doing) G" or "you're not paying enough attention to S." This is nothing that hasn't been clearly implicit in GNS all along, but it's worth noting.

2. "Fidelity" is a slipperier term than we're giving it credit for. For instance, fidelity is held to be compatible with Gamism because fidelity [/i]to a detailed set of rules[/i] can (obviously) support Gamist priorities. And it's held to be compatible with Narrativism because an entirely different kind of fidelity, fidelity to plausibility or consistency in the outcome, can support Narrativist priorites. The concept of "high fidelity" in particular needs some careful life support or it will collapse in contradictions and arguments (such as whether no-myth is necessarily low fidelity as Mike claims -- based on yet another type of fidelity, fidelity to a pre-existing imagined world-state -- or otherwise as I could argue). [Edited to acknowledge M. J. having made a similar point in the Fidelity Axis thread.]

3. Number 2, repeated nine more times. This all falls apart without a sound operational understanding of fidelity -- and I mean it all falls apart, core GNS included. (Well, maybe not falls apart completely, but a lot of progress gets reversed so that we'd be back to a negative definition of Simulationism as a lack of G or N metagame priorities.)

- Walt


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on June 02, 2003, 09:21:34 AM
Hi Walt,

Excellent points.  I'm going to venture for the moment that Fidelity is talking about Fidelity to those Explorative elements(System, Setting, Situation, Color, Character).  So, between those 5, there are various ways to prioritize what needs X amount of Fidelity.

So, if we're talking the Pool, system is at the top of the Fidelity list, with the rest being accorded to the group's standards.  If we're talking Nar drifted D&D(with lots of fudging), then System is dropped accordingly, and the other 4 raised depending on the group.  If we're talking Dust Devils, Setting and Color are going to have High Fidelity along with System.

When we look at it this way, and consider Sim as written, all that's being said is that Gamism or Narrativism has goals outside of Fidelity, and is willing to drop Fidelity to those explorative elements to accomplish their goals.  On the mirror side, Sim is all about Fidelity to those explorative elements(Exploration, remember?).  

Again, nothing new to GNS, just stated differently.  What may be of value is to not consider the Fidelity/Conflict plane as a hard triangle, but perhaps a fuzzy one, similar to those fun Mendelbrot colored probability maps.  What is a "make or break" Fidelity or Conflict question for one group, or one system, may not be an issue for another.  

So one group playing with X system, with Y social contract issues regarding Fidelity, may find that they have to choose between action A or action B based on Fidelity vs. Conflict.  Another group utilizing another system will not have that problem until further out on the graph.

To give a simple example, the classic throat-slitting issue of D&D:  Do you follow the rules in which the person lives via hp, or do you simply declare them dead?  This is a basic Fidelity of "plausibilty" vs. Fidelity of System happening.  Or some other rule?  Compare this to TROS, in which the throat slitting is handled by system fairly well, so the issue doesn't arise.

I'd like to say that any sort of judgement of a game in play, or a game facilitating X play, would be a dark blotch on the graph, lightening as it spreads out, showing the "most likely" sort of Fidelity/Conflict area of a game, and spreading out to the "less likely" areas based on drift, group, etc.  I'd also like to say that in some cases, one could have seperate areas marked, for example, I'd say that TROS has coverage in both Gamist and Narrativist sectors of the graph.

Thoughts? Input?

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 02, 2003, 09:45:32 AM
I knew we'd get to this point. And I ought to have known that it was Walt that called me on it. I have what I think is an answer.

First, however, I'd like to address Fidelity. I agree that it's being handled sloppily, even in the other thread meant to address it. And it's not a simple topic. Fidelity can't mean adherence to the rules, however. So that's not what would characterize HiFi/Challenge. That corner would be similar to the HiFi/Theme corner in that the decisions would be congruent with both aims. It's not some special place, and doesn't require us to imagine anything special. Just a decision where it so happens that perhaps the realistic thing to do and the one that will win are the same. And that the decision is being chosen for both of those reasons.

See, it's this last idea that's the sticking point. Walt defines it well. Priority is the problematic point. GNS says that, a player will, when one of those moments comes, make a decision that's either A or B based on his priority at that moment. But then the theory notes that this priority will only be seen over an Instance of play. Meaning players will actually make some mixture of atomic decisions in play, the overall appearance of which is G or N or S.

But that admits that there's another metric involved. That is, there must be some impetus towards each mode that's employed, or those other decisions would not get made. Further, that likely there's some metric on the decision itself as to how it applies to the other metrics that in sum total results in the decision arrived at. That is, if I have a player with strong S preference, and a stronger G priority, and he makes an S decision, that something about that particular set of choices that's available makes the decision with the lower priority the more attractive one.

In any case, we could look at that closely, but what it implies is that it is important to look at these not as priorities in terms of Walt's absolute method, but as some sort of metric. And that it's also important to consider how they might be mixed. Because it seems to me that if we want to cater to some particular segment that it's important to consider multiple axes, and not just the one priority.

Now, in GNS, this takes the form of the contentious Hybrid game. But that would be to cater to two GNS priorities. Which would seem to be nonsensical in that, if they're priorities then you can only have one. Or perhaps a balance between two or all three. But what you can't have is a priority of one and also a smaller one for another because that would contradict the idea of a priority being that which is most important.

Basically what Ron calls the GNS "priority" I would call the largest vector on the model. But again that makes you think in terms of singluar player preferences when demonstrably they have more.

Now, this all becomes clear when we say that GNS is not about players, it's about those individual behaviors. But this is the problem, we're not making games for behaviors to play. We're making games for players to play. And they are more complex than single behaviors. I, unlike Ron, want to be able to label people with the model. And that requires rating them across thier multiple potential proclivities.  

So, this model isn't triangular. Because it does not model a space that's based on what decisions actually get made (and even that triangle is only formed of a weight of decisions that are inside it; some do fall outside). It's based on the cross values of player desires. I have a strong desire for play that's both HiFi and Thematic. That puts me in the corner. Which doesn't exist in the GNS model.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: C. Edwards on June 02, 2003, 10:39:37 AM
Hey Mike,
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I have a strong desire for play that's both HiFi and Thematic. That puts me in the corner. Which doesn't exist in the GNS model.


Maybe I’ve been reading more into some aspects of GNS than are actually present but I always thought that corner did exist in GNS, although not explicitly stated. Your desires for HiFi and Theme will coincide on some decisions and you will have to prioritize one over the other for some decisions. I thought that was the whole point of an observable instance not being limited in duration. It can take quite a few decisions for an observer to work out someone’s play priorities.

Also, if you could address this issue in more detail I would appreciate it.

Quote from: Bankuei
I'm going to venture for the moment that Fidelity is talking about Fidelity to those Explorative elements(System, Setting, Situation, Color, Character). So, between those 5, there are various ways to prioritize what needs X amount of Fidelity.


Chris’ post makes a good deal of sense to me. HiFi/Challenge would, I imagine, almost never put Challenge over the Fidelity of System. Doing so would probably be seen as an incredible breach of Social Contract. The other aspects of Exploration would be much more likely to fall to the needs of Challenge when one desire was prioritized over another. That’s probably the case on different ends of the Conflict axis, but I think that all the talk of ’fudging’ and whatnot in various threads lately shows that the Fidelity of System often falls to desire for Fidelity in other aspects of Exploration.

-Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on June 02, 2003, 10:49:32 AM
Hi Chris,

Quote
That’s probably the case on different ends of the Conflict axis, but I think that all the talk of ’fudging’ and whatnot in various threads lately shows that the Fidelity of System often falls to desire for Fidelity in other aspects of Exploration.


I'd also say that the rule of "fudging" or "ignor the rules" comes from putting Challenge over System Fidelity.  Consider the really old 1st edition D&D stuff, where you'd get a unique situation such as a tar trap which would get its own set of rules made up to deal with it, such as, "Movement is reduced to 1/3rd, and you cannot make Saves to dodge attacks or spells".  "Ignor the rules" basically gives any GM the right to introduce new ones, or drift play at will in order to better facilitate Gamist priorities in D&D, and is the battlecry of those who believe D&D "can do everything".

Chris

Edited for clarity


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: C. Edwards on June 02, 2003, 11:10:27 AM
Hey Chris,

Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but once rules become formalized they become System and not 'fudging'. I think that the 'ignore the rules' directive was instituted to help maintain balance in a system where it's notoriously difficult to balance challenge vs. character/party power and in that sense it was also instituted in the pusuit of making the game 'fun'. If the system had less variables involved in creating balanced challenges I don't think that 'ignore the rules' bit would even exist.

-Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Emily Care on June 02, 2003, 11:18:31 AM
Hi Chris,

Quote from: Bankuei
I'm going to venture for the moment that Fidelity is talking about Fidelity to those Explorative elements(System, Setting, Situation, Color, Character).  So, between those 5, there are various ways to prioritize what needs X amount of Fidelity.


I agree that there will be different prioritizations and allotments of how the 5 elements of exploration will need to convey verisimilitude.  But instead of the wording you use above, I'd say that fidelity in a system may be expressed through the 5 elements of exploration.  Fidelity is always to some referent, and is a kind of choice or criterion applied to elements, or play instances, to determine whether they will be included or not.  Saying it is to the elements is a bit misleading.

That said, some systems will express it more through mechanics, some through setting materials, some through color, etc.


--Emily Care


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 02, 2003, 01:07:13 PM
Quote from: Bankuei
I'd like to say that any sort of judgement of a game in play, or a game facilitating X play, would be a dark blotch on the graph, lightening as it spreads out, showing the "most likely" sort of Fidelity/Conflict area of a game, and spreading out to the "less likely" areas based on drift, group, etc.  I'd also like to say that in some cases, one could have seperate areas marked, for example, I'd say that TROS has coverage in both Gamist and Narrativist sectors of the graph.


I'm liking the blotch.  You might take a single and make it a point on the graph.  After a whole series of decisions (an instance of play) you'll end up with a cluster of points, most likely in some sort of blotch-like pattern.  You could take an entire group's play of TROS and it might look like a horizontal smear perpendicular to the High end of the Fidelity axis or a heavy blotch in one area (assumption only, haven't played it).  Seems to fit with my completely unsubstantiated idea than a consistent Fidelity point can assist designing a game for Nar/Gam Congruence.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 02, 2003, 01:11:49 PM
Quote
Quote from: C. Edwards
Hey Mike,
Quote from: Mike Holmes
I have a strong desire for play that's both HiFi and Thematic. That puts me in the corner. Which doesn't exist in the GNS model.


Maybe I’ve been reading more into some aspects of GNS than are actually present but I always thought that corner did exist in GNS, although not explicitly stated.
Actually it does exist, as multiple priorities. Which, as I've said is conceptually difficult. Basically the advantage of my model here is that it makes the location of that play explicit as a basic assumption.

Quote
Your desires for HiFi and Theme will coincide on some decisions and you will have to prioritize one over the other for some decisions. I thought that was the whole point of an observable instance not being limited in duration. It can take quite a few decisions for an observer to work out someone’s play priorities.
That's GNS. My model says that each decision is somewhere on the chart, and is made due to the player having an urge of X amount to do so. Yes, observation is problematic, but a player will know his own urges fairly well. And you can also observe over time. But here's the key; this model allows you to consider the atomic decision, if only theoretically. For design that's important. Because sometimes support has to be available on that scale. At least I find it very useful to think of things on that scale.

Basically it doesn't matter that we don't know what play is for design purposes, we're after all trying to engender a certain sort of play, not discern it.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 02, 2003, 01:14:09 PM
Quote
Quote
That’s probably the case on different ends of the Conflict axis, but I think that all the talk of ’fudging’ and whatnot in various threads lately shows that the Fidelity of System often falls to desire for Fidelity in other aspects of Exploration.


I'd also say that the rule of "fudging" or "ignor the rules" comes from putting Challenge over System Fidelity.  Consider the really old 1st edition D&D stuff, where you'd get a unique situation such as a tar trap which would get its own set of rules made up to deal with it, such as, "Movement is reduced to 1/3rd, and you cannot make Saves to dodge attacks or spells".  "Ignor the rules" basically gives any GM the right to introduce new ones, or drift play at will in order to better facilitate Gamist priorities in D&D, and is the battlecry of those who believe D&D "can do everything".
You guys have taken this beyond me. I'm not sure what Fidelity to System is, actually. I know that it's not using the rules as intended. That can't be right. It can be using the rules to evoke that which the game seeks to evoke, namely some sense of the world as arbitrary.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Bankuei on June 02, 2003, 01:19:41 PM
Hi Mike,

I was referrring to Fidelity to the rules "as written"(interpreted however the group may after that point).  Hence, "Ignor the rules" is permission given to Drift, permission to drop Fidelity a notch to fulfill other goals.  Does that make sense to you?

Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 02, 2003, 01:31:35 PM
Quote from: Bankuei

I was referrring to Fidelity to the rules "as written"(interpreted however the group may after that point).  Hence, "Ignor the rules" is permission given to Drift, permission to drop Fidelity a notch to fulfill other goals.  Does that make sense to you?
Only somewhat.

Fidelity is adherence to the agreed to nature of the exploration via decisions in play and thier perception. So, "ignore the rules" is just a text saying something. If all the players agree as to what that means, and play by what they agree that means, then there's plenty of Fidelity going on.

Note how for "freeformers" the system is to encourage players not to stomp on each other's narration, for example. That's not particularly supportive, in my view, but if a player adheres to this principle, and explores appropriately, then the result certainly passes that group's Fidelty test.

Remember the Fidelity bar cam be set low and still result in funcitonal play.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: C. Edwards on June 02, 2003, 03:24:29 PM
Hey Mike,

Quote from: Mike Holmes
You guys have taken this beyond me. I'm not sure what Fidelity to System is, actually. I know that it's not using the rules as intended. That can't be right. It can be using the rules to evoke that which the game seeks to evoke, namely some sense of the world as arbitrary.


Thanks to the Fidelity vs. Integrity thread this is how I'm seeing it. Basically, I would say that System integrity is being preserved in every instance that use of that System would reduce the integrity of one of the other 4 elements from the player’s point of view and the player adheres to the System regardless. ‘Fudging’ a roll because the result would cause an adept character to look inept would be sacrificing System integrity for Character integrity. This assumes that this particular brand of ‘fudging’ hasn’t been formalized among the group. If it does become formalized it then becomes System.

Does that make any sense?

-Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on June 02, 2003, 06:41:18 PM
Pickett could refuse to charge, but he wouldn't.

I think that's the difference between fidelity and simulationism. The former considers all the options that are possible, given what is known about the world, the situation, and the character, but does not decide which to do solely on that basis. The latter chooses which option to take based on a defined metagame priority, the desire to be as true as possible to the elements without outside interference. In the same way that gamism encourages a player to choose an action from among the possible which furthers success and narrativism encourages a player to choose, again from among the possible, to develop theme, simulationism looks at the possibles and chooses the most probable, regardless of whether it leads to success or failure, whether it tells a better or worse story. It is a metagame priority which directs choice in exactly the same way as the other two metagame priorities: determining which of the possible actions the character will do.
Quote from: Walt
There seeoms to be some confusion between the amount of something and the prioritization of something....as I understand it, the prioritization referred to in GNS is always the relative variety. What is prioritized is what gets served when push comes to shove. In other words, it's the pushing and shoving, not the absolute amount of effort expended, that reveals priorities.

Simulationism is not fidelity.
Simulationism is not high fidelity.
Simulationism is (to a first approximation) the prioritization of fidelity.

Exactly. Simulationism can have a low detail setting and a lite system with lots of unanswered bits of reality, but whatever is established, we remain faithful to that and don't let other interests interfere.
Quote from: However, then he
M.J. wants three independent dimensions,...
which, I think, has been misunderstood in that which follows.

My notion of a three-dimensional approach is that you've got the GNS plane bisected by the Fidelity axis perpendicular to it. Actually, following your line, it would suggest we actually need a four-dimensional array--the x, y, and z axes representing G, N, and S, with the w axis representing Fidelity in relation to all three.

However, I'm not sure I agree with that; I don't think you really have "amounts" of G, N, or S in that sense. But that's about hybridization, and how it might be accomplished, and I think that we're too far even from a definition of hybridization to be able to intelligently address that aspect.*

The question here is not whether the game has high or low fidelity, but whether when the rubber meets the road it is strategy, theme, or integrity that is the deciding factor in player decisions.

--M. J. Young

*On hybrids: late last week I sent this to Chris Lehrich as part of a response on GNS:
Quote from: I
In regard to hybrids, I think there are three different notions that get mixed together.[list=1]
  • Uncommitted games. I think Multiverser falls into this category--the core engine is simulationist enough to run everything, but flexible enough that referees can raise or lower the level of simulation to fit what's necessary at the moment. That is, I can use a running skill success roll either to determine exactly how fast you ran or to determine whether you ran "fast enough" in this situation. Meanwhile, referees and players can bring issues and challenges (that is, narrativist and gamist concerns) into play through world and scenario choices--but referees do not have the power to force players into gamist or narrativist play. Players are free to play as they wish, sufficiently isolated from each other's goals that they won't interfere with each other, and able to shift in response to the game if they desire--or not if they prefer. Some of it requires that the referee respond to the player's desires; but then, part of the mechanics in the game is "does the character have things go the way he wants, and to what degree", so that's also built in.
  • Driftable games. I don't mean this in the sense that you can force a game to be whatever you want by ignoring parts of it; I mean that people are trying to build games that provide specific support for two or three styles, so that players can make it support the one they want. We encountered this on a recent thread, in which someone tried to toss together a game that would let players decide through character generation whether they were going for gamist, narrativist, or simulationist advancement by how they built the character. I found this implausible, and following John Kim's comments said that character generation was not a sufficient foundation for that, as the game engine itself was going to matter greatly. But there are games which move easily between two agendae, as long as everyone goes with them.
  • Focused Concept games. This is a game in which your creative agenda becomes in some sense irrelevant. I think I recently suggested a Viet Nam game, in which you're a member of a platoon. If the platoon is under fire, it doesn't much matter whether you're a gamist, narrativist, or simulationist--you're going to defend yourself and try to fight back. The gamist does it because he likes the challenge; the simulationist because it seems like what he would do; the narrativist because it's the color of the story against which the issues are played out. For very different reasons, they all do the same thing. Thus the player styles are not in conflict at that moment. However, I argue that the focus of such a game has to be so narrow that it will ultimately be dissatisfying to everyone one way or another. The gamist can't win the Viet Nam war. The narrativist can't do anything about his questions of the morality of the conflict. The simulationist can't focus on the experience of living in the southeast Asian jungle. Their priorities only align while in the very narrow area delineated by the concept; the closer they get to what they want to do, the more it falls apart. I don't think you can do this kind of hybrid beyond very narrow concepts (the Netrunner card game was suggested in this context, and I pointed out that the narrowness of the concept was the only reason it worked). Thus I think this is a pipe dream. Yet usually when people speak of hybrids, they're trying to do this: create a game in which gamist, narrativist, and simulationist players all in the same scenario will all make non-conflicting choices because their different goals lead to the same decisions. I think you and I are both on the same page here, thanks to our theology backgrounds. I frequently tell people that theology is everything: that what you really believe will ultimately determine what you actually do. You can't have players with entirely different agendae coming to the same conclusions on the best way to reach those different goals. It's the error of Jefferson (was it called the Marketplace of Ideas? I'm not remembering it right now), that if rational men discussed all the options we would ultimately all agree on the best way to reach the best world--it only works if we've already agreed in every detail about the best world, because otherwise we're all trying to get somewhere else. That's the problem with hybrids of this sort: if we're all trying to travel together and reach different places, we fight. It doesn't happen in Multiverser, because we don't have to travel together (Have fun stormin' the castle!). Other games let players drift between goals as play progresses. But you can't do what is sought here.[/list:o]
To add something to that (what, in case it wasn't long enough?), we all agree that it's possible to play a game in which conflicting priorities lead to identical choices. The question is whether when you do so you're actually choosing from more than one priority--and the answer seems to be probably not. You're choosing to do That Thing because it is the best gamist choice; the fact that it is also the best narrativist choice is irrelevant to your decision, but is what makes coherent play.

Also, I think that hybrid design and hybrid play are two entirely different beasts, and shouldn't be confused. I haven't seen TROS, but from what I've read of it, it always strikes me that it prioritizes narrativism in a way that overrides any commitment to simulationism entirely; what is cited as simulationist mechanics is nothing more than an attempt to create integrity in the setting, against which the real decisions are made. Those decisions, in TROS, appear to be narrativist, from all accounts, not simulationist. Maybe it is hybrid design, in the sense that it provides support for simulationist decision making but lets it be overridden by narrativist decision making; but I'm not really clear that this is hybrid. After all, that sounds to me like it means the game maintains its reality as long as narrativist decisions don't conflict with simulationist ones, but when they do the game clearly supports narrativist preferences.

But I haven't seen it, so I'm talking from what I've heard.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Valamir on June 03, 2003, 05:22:17 AM
I'm finding large parts of this thread rather suspect.

The term Fidelity was not used because there was a particular meaning to be ascribed to it.  The term fidelity was used as an alternative to calling the second axis simulationism, simply to avoid confusion.

That people have then taken a word that was chosen for no better reason than a lack of a better idea at the time, and spun it into 5 pages of stuff...makes me highly skeptical of the whole thing.  I mean its one thing if someone had developed these concepts and then hunted for a word to encapsulate them...but its something else entirely when a throw away term is inflated to these proportions.

The second axis should have just remained "Simulation" and then this entire derailment would never have occured.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Walt Freitag on June 03, 2003, 06:20:43 AM
Tying Fidelity back into the five elements of exploration is the right way to go, if any connection between fidelity and GNS Simulationism is to be maintained. (M. J,'s new theory won't need to do this, I suppose, because it puts fidelity on its own dimension orthogonal to everyting else including Simulationism -- a point that I did indeed fail to appreciate in recent posts.)

I agree that "fidelity to a set of rules" doesn't seem to have much meaning, yet if we're talking about the fidelity associated with exploration of system, it's where we end up. "Fidelity to (a) system" is tricky, kind of like "sticking to (a) diet." You can break a diet or fail to adhere to a system, but in the end you can't not have a diet (whatever you do in fact eat, is it) and you can't not have a system (however you do in fact play, is it). So the problem is what sort of fidelity goes along with "exploration of system." It appears that it could indeed be fidelity to a particular system (that is, not breaking or ignoring its rules, for instance), or it could be fidelity to some underlying principle by which a de facto system is being decided through play (the rough equivalent of "consistency" in exploration of, say, setting in no-myth play). The first possibility sounds much easier to achieve and more likely to be a real priority of real-world play, than the second.

The problem with saying that any magnitude of fidelity is compatible with any magnitude of Gamism or Narrativism is that it overlooks the signficant constraints on what kinds of fidelity (what elements of exploration the fidelity is being applied to) are compatible. "High fidelity to system" is not only compatible with high Gamism, it's all but required for it, but the same cannot be said for e.g. "high fidelity to character."

Indeed, the constraints on "what kind of fidelity" is compatible look a lot like congruence constraints, and adding the "high-fi high-Gamism" and "high-fi high Narrativism" corners seems to come about by spinning congruence scenarios(1) rather than expanding the "natural" GNS space -- whatever the hell that distinction means. Congruence is permeating this whole thread. M. J.'s Vietnam example under "Focused Concept" games is an elegant summary of (at least one type of) applied congruence including its important downsides. I agree with his points in full, though I might be more charitable and say "your creative agenda is served by default" rather than "your creative agenda becomes in some sense irrelevant" -- though the latter is just as valid a way to say it.

- Walt

(1) Which is not to say that such congruence scenarios don't occur in actual play. I believe they're common and that they underlie some of the skepticism toward GNS. At a first glance, it's easy to come to the conclusion that one's own group is "beating" the GNS coherence principles by simultaneously playing multiple modes without obvious incoherence symptoms -- and overlook the signficant compromises in scope of exploration that are being made to achieve that functionality.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 06:29:20 AM
I agree, Ralph. The tems should be interchangable. I prefer Fidlity because in terms of adding a magnitude to the term it sounds more sensible. That is, High Sim doesn't sound right. Sim is an absolute priority as are all the GNS modes. Fidelity is that measure that indicates the striving for Sim.

Walt said it:
Quote
Simulationism is (to a first approximation) the prioritization of fidelity.


MJ, so they are only different in terms of what structures they describe, but not in terms of what they produce. Hence Challenge is the magnitude of your Gamism Vector, and Theme is the magnitude of your Narrativism vector. There's no need for a fourth vector.

Quote
The question is whether when you do so you're actually choosing from more than one priority--and the answer seems to be probably not. You're choosing to do That Thing because it is the best gamist choice; the fact that it is also the best narrativist choice is irrelevant to your decision, but is what makes coherent play.
I totally disagree. The reason I put Challenge and Theme on the same axis is that I tend to agree that on that count you probably only consider one option or the other. Or that, at least perceptually this seems to be the case. But in terms of Fidelity, players seem to follow this mental process to my mind:

1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
2. Of those, I'll take a because it does what I want on the Conflict axis.

or

1. Here's a number of ways that I can get what I want out of my Conflict axis.
2. Of those this one is best because it's most believable.

In point of fact, this all usually occurs under the "not on purpose" idea, meaning the player considers this all but subconsciously. In actual fact, I think a lot of rationalization occurs.

1. This is the first thing that comes to mind.
2. It happens to seem to me to fit both axes.

But in fact, the process doesn't matter. It's the perception of the process. It's my contention that problems with the perception of the decision making process occur along the two axes described. That is players think in terms of, and vocalize their dissapointment with, either a decision being too lacking in Fidelity, or the decision being far away from desired on the Conflict axis.

Player priorities and decision making processes don't really matter in terms of Incoherence. It's the perception of how they are expressed in play that causes problems. Where the magnitude of the priorities has to be considered is in design, where you try to take those player vectors and turn them into palatable output via system.

TROS does a good job of handling these priorites by using Congruence, or separating the points of decsion making into particular points on the map. Using the model I think we can map out well where each element of TROS exists in what it supports, and you can see how it avoids Incoherency and where incoherency may occur.

Note how the Narrativist elements get Drifted out occasionally because people feel that in use they lack Fidelity to what they see as the Explorative elements that are important. "It's just not realistic that Vauknir becomes a better swordsman because his son is in danger" (note how the player isn't concerned with it being "too much Narrativism").

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 06:36:54 AM
Walt,

I've never understood System as one of the five elements. If system is the means by which we determine what happens in-game, then it's all of play, and encompasses the other elements. So if the system says that color shall be thus and such, and the GM is responsible for seeing that it occurs, color is part of the system.

OTOH, I can see exploration of Mechanics, which is what I assumed was what Ron meant before he rightly defined System in it's larger role.

Ron can you clarify once again what you mean by Exploration of System?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2003, 06:56:04 AM
Hi Mike,

Rolling to hit is a great example of Exploration of System. We have turned to some methodology in order to imagine what is happening in the game world. This methodology necessarily includes all the formal mechanics, but "formal" is often locally defined. In the case of rolling to hit, that local definition just means, "follow the written rule." Most of the time, I think, we can stick with this simple understanding.

However, that simple understanding isn't sufficient. For instance, a rule or method might be in the book, but the group ignores it (e.g. weapon's Speed Factor or whatever the hell it was called in my old AD&D books). That omission is part of System for that group. Similarly, just deciding that "he hits," without rolling or using other formal indicators, is System too, insofar as someone is designated as The Buck-Stopper (the guy who decides).

To say that System therefore applies to all moments of play is perfectly correct. I should also say that System can be highly, highly prioritized, and that's often the case when it's formalized through text, and when, for that group, that text's integrity is a big reason for why they're using it. As you know, GURPS included this idea as a big part of its marketing strategy back in the 80s, and JAGS, EABA, and Pocket Universe all provide (in my view) an improved and even more committed version of this strategy.

Does that help?

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Walt Freitag on June 03, 2003, 07:33:19 AM
Wrote the post quoted below about Exploration of System, then saw Ron's post in preview.

So I can only ask, does that mean all consensual use of System is exploration of System?

Gah. Wouldn't that make any functional play in any system Simulationist? In The Pool, I might know the perfect Premise-addressing thing to narrate, but the die roll says I don't get to narrate; using ( = exploring?) the system apparently has priority.

- Walt

Quote from: before reading Ron's post I

All right, Mike, you got me. Every time I see the list of five elements I'm singing the "one of these things is not like the others" song.

But I assumed that this was one of those things that was debated way before my time on other now-inaccessible fora, probably fought over tooth and nail, and who wants to go back there and hash it all out again?

To be honest, I don't think changing it to "exploration of mechanics" helps in any fundamental way. It's still like including "adjust the telescope" in a catalog of viewable astronomical objects.

Problem is, as a real-world observed behavior, this is a no-brainer. I've seen and done plenty of play that only seems describable as Exploration of System. Sometimes in overall Gamist contexts (by experimenting with the system, I hope to discover more effective strategies) and sometimes in overall Sim contexts (I just want to see what happens if the system is operated in a certain way). Sometimes I visualise the outcome in terms of the imagined game space. ("Lookit that! A low-level magic-user in the Hackmaster wurld could earn 50 GP per day by buying used books which are very cheap, using the Erase spell to erase the pages, and reselling the blank paper which is very expensive. I wonder if that means there are sweatshops devoted to this odd activity.") And sometimes I don't. (Hmm, for every 10 points I put into stat X, I get back 9 points in figured stats. Let's see what my defense rating would look like if I maxed stat X.)

The only way out I can see is to declare such activities "not role playing" in the same manner that collimating the telescope isn't astronomical observing and "exploration of what kind of pizza we're going to order" is not role playing. A good case could be made for it, but it might be a rather unpopular position. (Also, I doubt my examples from the preceding paragraph are representative of all Exploration of System play; there are probably cases that are more resistant to being classified as "not role playing.")


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: John Kim on June 03, 2003, 09:16:17 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
  Rolling to hit is a great example of Exploration of System. We have turned to some methodology in order to imagine what is happening in the game world. This methodology necessarily includes all the formal mechanics, but "formal" is often locally defined.
...
To say that System therefore applies to all moments of play is perfectly correct. I should also say that System can be highly, highly prioritized, and that's often the case when it's formalized through text, and when, for that group, that text's integrity is a big reason for why they're using it.

This doesn't seem right to me.  "Exploration" to me implies learning.  Thus, for example, if a D&D group goes through a dungeon module, they are exploring setting.  However, if after they complete the module, they play it again, there is much less exploration going on.  If they keep playing through that module twelve more times, there is really no exploration left.  

Now, I can see some games being exploration of system, like say Rolemaster or Champions.  Through play, you learn nuances of the complex system which you didn't before.  However, I don't think that simply using the system constitutes exploration.  For example, a hit roll in Call of Cthulhu is very cut and dried.  After your first game (at most) of CoC, there is no longer any exploration of system in rolling for your attack.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on June 03, 2003, 09:26:52 AM
Mike, I'm beginning to think you've never played a character who is not you with pointy ears or something; I know that's not true. I must not be understanding something here.
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: quoting what I
The question is whether when you do so you're actually choosing from more than one priority....
I totally disagree. The reason I put Challenge and Theme on the same axis is that I tend to agree that on that count you probably only consider one option or the other. Or that, at least perceptually this seems to be the case. But in terms of Fidelity, players seem to follow this mental process to my mind...

1. This is the first thing that comes to mind.
2. It happens to seem to me to fit both axes.

I've run a lot of fighter-type characters who are, by the book, fearless. When I run them, I'm always conflicted--there is a tension between the best tactical choice for the character and what the character would in fact choose to do. Tell me that it makes tactical sense for a cavalier to ignore all the infantrymen, wade into the middle of the battle where he's surrounded, and attack the most powerful enemy on the field one-on-one, when there's a ten-level disparity between them; yet that is what the character would do. A missile weapon is a vital piece of tactical equipment for a fighter, but a kensai will not use one, ever. I have more than once had my tactical insights quashed by my recognition that this, although logically completely possible, was not something the character would be willing to do. I once had a lawful good fourth level fighter type agree to lead a mission
  • about twelve miles deep into the underdark
  • to the home of the chaotic evil drow
  • in the middle of a war between drow factions
  • with a party of maybe a dozen characters none of whom were as high a level as he.[/list:u]Why? Because a drow princess he had (rather inadvertently) rescued from slavers asked him to take her home, and he felt honor-bound to respect that request. I was sure he was going to be slaughtered before he got a hundred yards below the surface, but I knew that he had no fear and would neither see this as too dangerous nor renege on his commitment. I wanted any reason at all for that mission to be aborted, but I had simulationist priorities for my character, and would not let him do what made the most tactical sense or the best story--only what he would most likely do in that situation.

    I've already agreed that fidelity is a concern that is considered; I just disagree that it replaces simulationism. It is independent of simulationism. That is, as surely as we can see
      1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
      2. Of those, I'll take a because it is tactically the best choice.[/list:u]and
      1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
      2. Of those, I'll take a because it drives the core theme into sharp relief.[/list:u]we can also see
      1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
      2. Of those, I'll take a because it is the thing that my character would most likely do, since he is unaware of my concerns for story or success.[/list:u]
      You're ignoring that this is actually a real player priority which
    • conflicts with both gamist and narrativist priorities in the same way that they conflict with each other and
    • is actually independent of the commitment to fidelity within the game generally.[/list:u]
      You've recognized an important aspect to play, that of fidelity to the reality portrayed; but then you've tried to have that consume something that is different in kind from it, the metagame priority of maintaining integrity. You keep insisting that players always act from gamist or narrativist priorities to some degree, when repeatedly it has been seen that sometimes they act not from a lack of either of these but from a positive affirmation of the values of verisimilitude and integrity.
      Quote from: To repeat what I previously
      The question here is not whether the game has high or low fidelity, but whether when the rubber meets the road it is strategy, theme, or integrity that is the deciding factor in player decisions.
      GNS recognizes that the three are constantly in conflict as player priorities. You're confusing a high level of commitment to fidelity as a prioritization of integrity; it is clear both that a game can have a high commitment to fidelity when all the decisions are gamist or narrativist, and that a game can have a low commitment to fidelity and still prioritize integrity.

      --M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2003, 09:27:45 AM
Hiya,

I'm using the definition of Exploration from my essay. This seems to have tripped you up a few times already in discussion, John. It just means imagining stuff in the process of role-playing.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 11:17:01 AM
MJ, it sounds to me like you're just saying that conflict between the priorities occurs. Which I agree with. And that there are more than one kind of Incoherency in Fidelity. Which I've agreed to in the other thread.

Quote
You keep insisting that players always act from gamist or narrativist priorities to some degree
No I haven't. I've in fact denied that more than once. What I've said is that players object to things on these two axes. Not that they make decsion on both axes. You have to get past that before we can continue to discuss this.


What I don't see is a need to address these two subsets of Fidelity as a separate priority. They seem totally the same to me from a point of view of what makes them problematic for players. And in fact, I think that players only rarely encounter the phenomenon where somebody disagrees with two different decisions aimed at High Fidelity, and disagree on the "what's to be explored" question. But even so, when that happens, the perceptual nature of the model takes this into account. That is, it's my claim that all decisions are problematic for either of those two basic reasons along any axis. That is either:

A. They think a decision is impropper because there is a disagreement on what's to be explored along that axis.

or

B. They think that a decision is impropper because there's a disagreement on what minimum level is supposed to be maintained along that axis.

Thus Fidelity isn't uniqe in having this problem. If we split Fidelity I'm sure that we'll be splitting the other two moments later.


Coherent design involves, I think, delivering both a message that tells the player what sort of events should occur, and for each, what levels of response is required along which axes.

Take TROS again. It says that in deciding who to fight, you ought to make very theme based decisions. But then, after begining to fight, it changes to a strong message that Challenge based decisions are what's required. The fact that the one reinforces the other is an example of mechanics pushing congruence. It does this by making combat the central action to be explored, and it does this all while saying that things need to be "realistic" or more appropriately based on game world physics that explain how characters interact in combat.

TROS isn't Narrativist other than the most gross of assessments. It's Theme leading to Challenge all while being Simultaneously HiFi.


Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 03, 2003, 11:18:46 AM
Funny thing about Exploration of System...I've got the same confusion over Situation (isn't all roleplaying about what happens?)  So, to answer my own question, and maybe yours:

I think what I've forgotten is that all Exploration elements are present in play, saying you are prioritizing System doesn't mean it's your singular focus (like GNS would be), but instead it is saying that the player is committing more attention to how it influences the events in the shared imaginary space.  For example, prioritizing Explore:System may be nothing more complicated than devoting more thought to how the movement rules work (System) than what the character looks like when running (Color).

*****

On Congruence:
All this approach is saying (in a round-about way) is that Sim/Nar Congruence and Sim/Gam Congruence is a valid single priority; and that Gam/Nar Congruence may occur, but the player is not prioritizing the Congruence, it just happened (or someone else, like the GM, engineered it to happen).  I suppose it is also implying (by the way it is organized) that some level of Sim Congruence is what most players desire.

*****

I'd just like to chime in with Mike and Ralph (which might illuminate this side of the arguement a little more) I've been using Integrity, Fidelity, Verisimilitude, prioritization of Exploration, and Simulationism interchangeably.  I don't know the perfect word for the concept, but all those words are addressing the same concept for me.

******

This may be the entire disagreement right here (well, my side of it anyway):

Quote from: M.J.
1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
2. Of those, I'll take a because it is the thing that my character would most likely do, since he is unaware of my concerns for story or success.


Let me add one more:

Quote from: I
1. Here's a set of options that have the required Fidelity.
2. Of those, I'll take a because it is the thing that my character would most likely do, because choosing my concerns for story or success would violate what my character would do.


Quote from: M.J.
You're ignoring that this is actually a real player priority which conflicts with both gamist and narrativist priorities in the same way that they conflict with each other and is actually independent of the commitment to fidelity within the game generally.


I guess my stance is that is doesn't conflict in the same way.

I would say the first one above was Hi-Fi|Neutral Conflict.  The player isn't prioritizing Fidelity over Challenge/Theme - he's prioritizing neither Challenge/Theme while prioritizing Fidelity.

The second choice is either Hi-Fi|Theme or Hi-Fi|Challenge, where Hi-Fi ranks above whatever the other priority is.  The player is prioritizing Fidelity over something else, but when he hits a point where he doesn't need to do that (Congruent decision point) we'll be able to identify whether Theme or Challenge is his subordinate priority.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 11:41:35 AM
Quote from: cruciel
For example, prioritizing Explore:System may be nothing more complicated than devoting more thought to how the movement rules work (System) than what the character looks like when running (Color).
Except that by the larger definition, how you determine Color is via system. How you determine Situation is via system. How you determine setting is via system. I mean, if the system is that the GM is arbiter of the setting as he ususally is, then isn't the GM creating a setting detail like a palace just a use of system?

Better put, give me an example of using the system that's not also one of the other four. I mean if rolling to hit is a great example of exploring system, isn't that just altering situation as well? Or do we mean simply resolution systems, and not system overall?

If the group ignores a rule, haven't they just drifted to a new rule that says that this situation isn't covered by resolution mechanics? That it's covered by GM fiat, or something like that? Isn't that system?

I'm not getting it, Ron.

*****

Quote
On Congruence:
All this approach is saying (in a round-about way) is that Sim/Nar Congruence and Sim/Gam Congruence is a valid single priority; and that Gam/Nar Congruence may occur, but the player is not prioritizing the Congruence, it just happened (or someone else, like the GM, engineered it to happen).  I suppose it is also implying (by the way it is organized) that some level of Sim Congruence is what most players desire.
I think that those are somewhat valid conclusions, but they don't enlighten the base of the model.

I think that Fidelity might be different because exploration seems to preceed Conflict in a very real way (as it does in schematics that say that GNS comes after Exploration). Basically, Incoherence can occur at the Exloration level (Fidelity based), or it can happen in terms of where GNS is located (Conflict). This is not to say that players have to go through this process, it's saying that the foirst things that has to be considered is what's happening in the shared imagined space. And that requires the act to have some reference to Fidelity first.

But I'm not really prepared to look into that right now. At the moment I'm going off of personal evidence mostly.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on June 03, 2003, 11:47:28 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
The reason I put Challenge and Theme on the same axis is that I tend to agree that on that count you probably only consider one option or the other. Or that, at least perceptually this seems to be the case.


Just as there are those who want story (or maybe Story or Theme or whatever - exact meanings here are tough to establish, hopefully a general idea is all that's needed for this particular point) to result from a true Sim, there are those who want story to result from a pure Game.  I've played with some such people, and R. Talsorian's Mekton (Zeta flavor, though my impression was they tried this with EVERY flavor that ever came out) was the game they tried to use for this goal.  It didn't quite work, IMO, and GNS may be a big part of why.

But - maybe that experience has warped me, but my biggest problem in this Horseshoe 2 stuff has been I just don't see Challenge and Theme on the same scale.  They exist independently, as far as I can tell.  Admitedly, there is cross-influence but . . . well, everything has cross-influence, really.

In the draft of the Gamism essay I read, Ron discussed the "want story to emerge from game" phenomena a bit, and had no easy answers for such players.  By putting Theme and Challenge at opposite ends of the same scale, you do explain WHY such folks can't get what they want - but when I say it didn't quite work, that implies also it wasn't a total failure.  And if you're still mapping behaviors with this Horseshoe 2, it seems clear to me that many folks are NOT behaving like Challenge and Theme are on the same axis . . .

Sorry that my first comment on the intriging approach of Horseshoe 2 is kinda negative - I'm liking a lot of what I read here - but unless I'm missing something, Challenge/Theme on one axis doesn't hold up very well.

Gordon


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2003, 11:48:26 AM
Hi Mike,

The way I see it, if you have Character, Situation, Setting, and Color, then nothing happens. That's right, even if you have Situation. It's all frozen without System.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 03, 2003, 12:06:29 PM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Except that by the larger definition, how you determine Color is via system. How you determine Situation is via system. How you determine setting is via system. I mean, if the system is that the GM is arbiter of the setting as he ususally is, then isn't the GM creating a setting detail like a palace just a use of system?

Better put, give me an example of using the system that's not also one of the other four. I mean if rolling to hit is a great example of exploring system, isn't that just altering situation as well? Or do we mean simply resolution systems, and not system overall?


I guess I was thinking of System (in the Exploration context) as mechanics, both formal and informal - the rules of the game.

Normally, I would think of "system" as:  Setting, Color, System, and a little Character.  Which is what they seem to be talking about in Baseline/Vision, but I guess that isn't germane to the discussion.

*****

Quote
I think that Fidelity might be different because exploration seems to preceed Conflict in a very real way (as it does in schematics that say that GNS comes after Exploration). Basically, Incoherence can occur at the Exloration level (Fidelity based), or it can happen in terms of where GNS is located (Conflict). This is not to say that players have to go through this process, it's saying that the foirst things that has to be considered is what's happening in the shared imagined space. And that requires the act to have some reference to Fidelity first.


By that approach Fidelity conflict encapsulates an idea I've been calling Exploration conflict - very elegant.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 12:21:15 PM
Quote from: Ron Edwards

The way I see it, if you have Character, Situation, Setting, and Color, then nothing happens. That's right, even if you have Situation. It's all frozen without System.

Right. So either you explore System, or nothing happens. Which means that you are always exploring system in play. How can one prioritize system, if it's always already in use?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2003, 12:24:09 PM
Hi Mike,

"Use" and "prioritize" aren't the same things. I'm kind of puzzled, man. All of the five elements are "always in use." Prioritizing them is a matter of which causes which, or which receive more energy and attention than the others - not a matter of which get used at all and which don't.

I was under the impression that the Sim essay was pretty clear about that.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Valamir on June 03, 2003, 12:27:06 PM
Ron I think the problem Mike is having is that this discussion seems to have inflated system into something that is no longer 1 of the 5, but rather above the remaining 4.

i.e.  Instead of

[Social Context [Exploration of the 5 [GNS]]]

it now appears to be:

[Social Context [System [Exploration of the 4 [GNS]]]


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: talysman on June 03, 2003, 12:33:32 PM
I thought I'd reiterate a point someone already mentioned in the thread, a point I think is getting lost here; Fidelity as it was originally proposed by Emily Care was simply a one-word rephrasing of the metagame priority of Simulationism. it's Fidelity (faithfulness) to the referrant (source). that source may be a movie, tv show, book, body of myth, set of genre expectations, or setting description in a game book. it's what was later called Baseline+Vision in another thread.

it is not Fidelity to Exploration (imagining), since Exploration happens in all role-playing. I think I made the mistake of talking about "Fidelity to Setting" in my contribution to the thread. I think Fidelity to Setting, Situation, Character and Color only matters for Simulationism in so far as those elements relate to Baseline+Vision; and Fidelity to System only matters in Sim games where System represents gameworld physics.

Integrity, which is being discussed in a spin-off thread, is something different; I classify it as similar to Handling Time, Points of Contact, and similar system features: you can vary any of these in any game, regardless of where it lies on the Big Horseshoe. as an example: I've played a lot of Hi Fi Sim before and Lo Fi Gamist, but I prefer Low Handling Time in either of those game flavors. I also prefer High Integrity of Color, decent Integrity of Character and Situation, but I'm willing to play looser with Integrity of Setting, which is why the improvised world approach of Sorcerer & Sword is appealing to me.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: talysman on June 03, 2003, 12:36:16 PM
Quote from: Valamir
Ron I think the problem Mike is having is that this discussion seems to have inflated system into something that is no longer 1 of the 5, but rather above the remaining 4.


I'm betting Ron would say the same thing about any of the elements of Exploration... if you have Setting, System, Situation and Color, but no Character, you have no play.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 12:38:49 PM
Quote from: Gordon C. Landis

But - maybe that experience has warped me, but my biggest problem in this Horseshoe 2 stuff has been I just don't see Challenge and Theme on the same scale.  They exist independently, as far as I can tell.  Admitedly, there is cross-influence but . . . well, everything has cross-influence, really.
Which is cool. That ends you with the threeD model. But that hurts my brain to think about (try it for a minute, plot a High Fi, Low Theme, High challenge decision in your mind). Worse, I just don't think people think in these terms on the spot.

When you ask a player what's wrong, he'll say one of three sorts of things, true. But consider these examples:

"Not realistic enough." - the player really doesn't care why it wasn't realistic enough, just that for some reason it wasn't. Perhaps some other priority made it that way, or maybe it didn't.

"Not a good move." - the player does care why. That is, if he has a high Fidelity requirement, and it was Hi Fi, then he'll say, "But realistic" (which may mitigate or not depending). If he has a low Fi requirement, his objection will be, ", because you're using your power to intentionally lose for some reason."

"Not a cool story." - the player again cares why. If he has a high Fidelity requirement, then he'll say, "but very real" (and again that may mitigate). If he has a low Fidelity requirement, he says, "Because you're trying to win and not to tell a good story."

Now, I'm forcing these examples to an extent. But its very much the problems with general current GNS understanding and intuition of it that moves me to this. I too, as a practitioner of GNS theory tend to think in terms of three axes. But is that really how things go on the fly in play?

Well, I know I'm too close to it to say for sure. But it really seems to do something for me in terms of ease of understanding. And further, I think that the "Exploration preceeding Conflict" thing has something to it.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 12:50:18 PM
Ron, that's a semantic argument. Forget "Use". Insert your term. How does one prioritize system or give it more energy? If it's always given attention, then how can it have less attention given to it? Try examples. I really can't imagine what you're talking about if it's not resolution systems or mechanics.

For example, do you mean to say that if I am the GM, and am describing the setting, that I'm prioritizing setting then?

Ralph, you are correct that I have a problem with that discussion, and what it entails, but it's based on this current problem in understanding.

Mike

P.S. Please try to read each post individually, folks. I'm posting and getting so many responses that I'm having to post one post right after another (I post, come back to find more to post to, and have to post again right away to keep up). So I've given up on saying that I'm posting twice in a row etc. Just try to ensure that you don't miss a response to your concern.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 03, 2003, 12:50:27 PM
Hi there,

John wrote,

Quote
I'm betting Ron would say the same thing about any of the elements of Exploration... if you have Setting, System, Situation and Color, but no Character, you have no play.


And he'd win that bet.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 12:58:29 PM
Quote from: talysman
it's Fidelity (faithfulness) to the referrant (source). that source may be a movie, tv show, book, body of myth, set of genre expectations, or setting description in a game book.
Uh, I'm not sure what you're saying there, but Sim is not an attempt to emulate something Faithfully. I'm really thinking that Fidelity as a term has to go.

If player A says, "I jump the log" and does not roll, that's low Fidelity. If player B says, "I try to jump the log" and uses the resolution system to determine that the does, as long as that's part of what's to be explored, then that's HiFidelity.

It's not "sticking to the source material". Not at all. Unless that's supported somehow by the specific system. People have got to stop thinking this. It's not totally wrong, but there's this slippery slope away from a large percentage of potential design and play that does not fit this definition.

Quote
it is not Fidelity to Exploration (imagining),
I think maybe it is, but we're stuck on te uses of some of these terms here. I think your Integrity is more the Sim thing, and I'm thinking of going that way. Actually, I'm very tempted to just go back to Sim as I think that encompases both and nobody had a problem with that back then. Fidelity if we are to keep it, has to be broadly construed, not given personal slants.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Emily Care on June 03, 2003, 01:04:17 PM
Going way, waaaaay back to the start of this thread....
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Like I said, I'm not going to call it Simulationism because that would indicate by the older model that it's a type of decision by itself. ...So I'm a little stuck for terms at the moment. What I need is a term for the spectrum that goes from at one extreme ignoring the "reality" of the game completely, and on the other pays so much atttention to the in-game conventions that it almost blots out the other axis. Plausibility almost works for this one, but not quite. Internal Consistency?


and:
Quote from: Bankuei
How's this for a term?  Fidelity.  High Fidelity=Staying close to the plausibilty as defined by the game/setting/etc.  Low Fidelity=willingness to discard or ignor it at will for other purposes?


Okay, that helps me understand the disjunction going on (at least in my head) about how fidelity is being used. We've got one term with different definitions.

--Emily Care


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 03, 2003, 01:28:28 PM
Quote from: Emily Care
We've got one term with different definitions.

Well, I only had one meaning ever. It's just that the words I used to define it (or agreed defined it), are themselves interperable. I see both defititions above as meaning the definition that I see. You see them otherwise. I can see how you might have your opinion, can you see how I might have mine?

Thing is that I've tried very hard to keep at ensuring the definition was understood. And despite that, in only a couple of days people have started to see things that I've never intended. I must not be good at this.

So I've chosen a new term. Bloorn. Bloorn is that quality of a decision that makes it seem more solidly something that occured as a result of in-game causality of some sort.

How's that?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 03, 2003, 01:40:17 PM
John already said most of what I was going to say, even though it was from another angle.  I like the direction some people have taken with Fidelity, and I see a strong connection between Fidelity(2) and Baseline (even though I'm still a little fuzzy on specifically what that means).  But, I don't think Baseline is quite what Mike is talking about here.  So, if this is all true, I see very clearly where 'all play has Fidelity(2) and Sim needs to be its own axis' comes from, and I agree with the point.  I just don't think it's the same arguement.

Verisimilitude is a big ugly word that says 'Hey look at me aren't I smart!', but it may be the closest word conceptional - according to the dictionary anyway:

Verisimilitude:
The quality of appearing to be true or real in a work of the imagination.

EDIT: Cross post with Mike.  Bloorn?  Well, it doesn't have any unwanted connotations.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: C. Edwards on June 03, 2003, 01:50:02 PM
Quote
Verisimilitude:
The quality of appearing to be true or real in a work of the imagination.


But versimilitude is independent of Fidelity. Versimilitude can exist in both ends of the Fidelity axis, it's just that some people prefer a framework beyond internal consistency to be the agent of that versimilitude. Mike posted an excellent example of this very same thing in the Fidelity vs. Integrity thread.

-Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 03, 2003, 02:28:42 PM
In summary:

I totally, completely endorse Bloorn as the new term.  It's perfect simply because it avoids the semantic arguments that make my brain explode when I try to read them.

Bloorn.

So, Bloorn is an axis, and replaces GNS's Simulationism, Beeg Horseshoe 2's Fidelity.  I propose Bloorn Horseshoe as a new name for the theory.

So, an example of a Low-Bloorn game that's near center on the Challenge Axis would be any rules-lite Sim game, say, the Window or Pollies.  An example of a High-Bloorn game that's near center on the Challenge Axis would be Hero or GURPS.

The Bloorn Horseshoe's purpose is twofold:

1. Assist players in evaluating and understanding decisions made by themselves and others during play.
2. With this evaluation and increased understanding, assist designers in creating games that encourage certain types of decisions during play.

Does that seem right to y'all?

[Edited to make some wording more polite and meaningful]


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 03, 2003, 03:09:32 PM
Quote from: C. Edwards
But versimilitude is independent of Fidelity. Versimilitude can exist in both ends of the Fidelity axis, it's just that some people prefer a framework beyond internal consistency to be the agent of that versimilitude. Mike posted an excellent example of this very same thing in the Fidelity vs. Integrity thread.


I was behind on that thread, now I'm all caught up...

I'm not seeing what you're talking about, verisimilitude seems to match up with what Mike was saying pretty well.  I think his problem (Mike?) with the term was that it implies a single state and a preference for that state - not a range of values.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 04, 2003, 07:22:45 AM
OK, I was being facetious to make a point. See, whatever term you use, there are those who will say that you get the best Fidelity, Verisimilitude, Simulation, Immersion, Integrity, Veracity, Realish, whatever, via methods that aren't the sort of thing that I'm trying to describe here.

All these terms can be co-opted easily, simply because the idea that we're discussing doesn't exist outside of RPGs, Simulations, Video Games, etc. There is no term that has ever been meant to describe it and only it precisely. So one of two things has to happen. Either we have to make up a term that can't be misconstrued (this is where my SpecSimImm came from), or we have to agree that the term we choose has a special definition for purposes of the model and stick to that definition when discussing it.

That would be creating Jargon, which is what I was trying to do with Fidelity. The problem is that all sorts of other agendas come in, use common meanings for the term, and then say, "Aha! We were right all along, there's no reason to play Sim!".

Which is precisely what I don't believe is true.

This priority does exist, and there is no attempt by the model to diminish it in any way. In fact, I was trying to privilege the priority by putting it in it's own special place as a somewhat separate consideration from the other elements of the model.

So, I can continue to be silly and use Bloorn, or we can deside on a term. It seems to me that Simulationism never had this particular problem (though it had others), so I'm going to go back to using something like that for the nonce. But since I need it to be a magnitude, I'm going to call it the Sim Value. As in "the decision was seen to have a high Sim Value".


At this point, I'd like to ask if anyone has comments about the model as a whole. Does it seem to provide better understanding? Would a three axis model be better? Or is this all adding complexity without making anything more accessible? My hope is that the model can exist alongside GNS as a way of describing it in more internal detail when neccessary (kinda like special relativity works with the general theory).  

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 04, 2003, 07:49:46 AM
Bummer.  I really liked Bloorn, too...

However.  It seems to me that the Horseshoe (Bloorn or otherwise) simply serves as a clarification of sorts to how Simulationism works in GNS.  Which is pretty much what Mike just said.  So I guess this is me saying, "I agree."

To answer the posed question of whether or not this model is useful - I'd say that it is.  Basically, it's a reworking of GNS into a graphical sort of thing that can be easier to grok (picture >= 1000 words and all that...), and it reflects well how S works in GNS.

I think Sim Value is a good name for it.

BTW, in my last post, instead of "replaces GNS's Simulationism," I should have said (and meant) that it illustrates GNS's Simulationism, specifically how it is used in conjunction with the other modes.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on June 04, 2003, 08:01:41 PM
Quote from: Trying to define fidelity, Mike Holmes
that quality of a decision that makes it seem more solidly something that occured as a result of in-game causality of some sort.

Perhaps causalism is a better term? Seriously, despite having read every post on this thread and the other, I don't think I once saw anyone's use of "fidelity" to mean this, and it's not an intuitive meaning of the word, really. I'm inclined to think that if this really is limited to the degree to which in-game reality is self-consistent and self-supporting, something like causalism might convey that.

But I'm still not satisfied.

Quote from: Mike earlier
When you ask a player what's wrong, he'll say one of three sorts of things, true. But consider these examples:

"Not realistic enough." - the player really doesn't care why it wasn't realistic enough, just that for some reason it wasn't. Perhaps some other priority made it that way, or maybe it didn't.

"Not a good move." - the player does care why. That is, if he has a high Fidelity requirement, and it was Hi Fi, then he'll say, "But realistic" (which may mitigate or not depending). If he has a low Fi requirement, his objection will be, ", because you're using your power to intentionally lose for some reason."

"Not a cool story." - the player again cares why. If he has a high Fidelity requirement, then he'll say, "but very real" (and again that may mitigate). If he has a low Fidelity requirement, he says, "Because you're trying to win and not to tell a good story."

This was actually jarring to me. If it wasn't jarring to anyone else, let me parse out the examples.[list=1]
  • "Not realistic enough" is objected to strictly as a failure of realism. From a GNS perspective, this is merely a matter of simulationist play complaining that insufficient simulationism is indicated.
  • "Not a good move" is objected to. If the objector says, "But realistic", we have a simulationist/gamist conflict of sorts. If the objector says, "you're using your power to intentionally lose", we seem to have a failure strictly within gamism.
  • "Not a cool story" is objected to. If he says, "but very real", we have a simulationist/narrativist conflict. If he says, "you're trying to win", we have a narrativist/gamist conflict.[/list:o]What I see is that you can have gamist and narrativist conflicts with simulationism simulationist and narrativist conflicts with gamism, and simulationist and gamist conflicts with narrativism.

    This dual-axis model obscures this, I think. It makes it seem as if gamism is in tension only with narrativism, simulationism being a separate thing. Put another way, if on a cartesian plane, gamism is x and narrativism is negative x, you're going to have to find some value along the x axis which represents the tension between x and negative x, which might be zero but is more likely to be either positive or negative; but in any event the simulationism/fidelity/causality/bloorn value y can be anything without ever conflicting with this.

    I don't see it that way at all.

    GNS seems to be an absolutization of one priority over the other two: if there is a conflict between the three values, this one wins.

    Hybridization (of the primary/secondary sort) seems to be an approach to Roshambo without the loop. That is, if we say we have a game which is "narrativist with simulationist secondary" we mean that any time a decision is forced between narrativist priorities and any others, narrativism wins, but if a decision needs to be made in which there are no narrativist priorities, simulationism wins.

    By that reasoning, a narrativist/gamist hybrid should be the simplest thing in the world. You decide which is more important, and it always trumps the other; but whichever is the lesser of the two always trumps simulationism if the greater is not involved.

    I still think this causalism/fidelity/bloorn thing is separate from simulationism. The commitment to in-game reality/consistency/verisimilitude is support for all three, and can be set at any level for any of them. Any one of these can trump the other two.

    I don't think it clarifies GNS at all.

    --M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2003, 06:32:04 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
I still think this causalism/fidelity/bloorn thing is separate from simulationism.
The way people are using it, it's not. I agree. And you see me fighting tooth and nail to try to prevent that slide in understanding. But as I seem to be failing, I have to acceed that maybe this is all misguided.

I still maintain that I've never said most of the things that you claim I'm saying. I've never said that these things cannot compete. I merely see a subtle difference in how they compete, which might be served by a different model. I don't claim to be changing the original model much if at all, but you seem to say that I'm radically trying to alter it. So, there's obviously some observational differences that we have with how this all works. Which I have to take into account in terms of the model's potential usefulness.

Quote
The commitment to in-game reality/consistency/verisimilitude is support for all three, and can be set at any level for any of them. Any one of these can trump the other two.
Does the three axis model work for you then? And by that I mean to eliminate all references to whatever that fourth thing is (which I don't really believe in myself; and which can be discussed separately if people think it's important), and just concentrate on the original three behaviors. In fact, we can just go back to their original naming schemes (perhaps naming the magnitudes something like Gamist Value, etc).

Quote
I don't think it clarifies GNS at all.
OK, that's one very clear and well stated vote against it. And given that I think that others are changing what the Sim axis is all about, in trying to understand it, I'm on the fence myself. Anyone want to argue in favor of the model? If not then it would be time to can it.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 05, 2003, 07:06:15 AM
Quote from: Mike Holmes
Anyone want to argue in favor of the model? If not then it would be time to can it.

What, am I talking to the walls here?

Quote from: ethan_greer
To answer the posed question of whether or not this model is useful - I'd say that it is.  Basically, it's a reworking of GNS into a graphical sort of thing that can be easier to grok (picture >= 1000 words and all that...), and it reflects well how S works in GNS.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2003, 07:50:00 AM
I'm hearing you, Ethan. You're one of many who've said that it's helpful, actually. And I'd like to go on popular opinion, but I have to go with the debate as well.

So what is it about the model that you see as suuperior? Is it simply the graphical nature? If so, then there's nothing about my axis divisions that are important to that. Would you be fine with the three axis model? Or is there something about the axes that I've identified that you can point to as being inherently more understandable in relation to actual play?

Don't get me wrong, I hope you're right. But how would you address MJ's opposition, for instance?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 05, 2003, 08:47:30 AM
Cool.

What about the model do I see as superior?  Well, nothing, really.  Earlier comments I've made seem to indicate that this model is superior in some way to GNS, but I'd like to retract that.  My understanding and way of thinking has changed over the past few days.  I'll try to summarize.

GNS - a big three-part model, bursting with chewy goodness and pages and pages of analysis.  Digging through that analysis, I get to the following conclusions:

Gamism: As presented, it's straightforward and intuitive, easy to understand and corroborate through observation.

Narrativism:  Same deal.

Simulationism:  Presented as a prioritization of the five elements present in ALL roleplaying, and a mode of play in which causality is the chief concern without reference to the other two modes.

To which I respond, "Run that by me again?"  As do lots of other folks.

Simulationism has always smacked to me of Euclid's 5th postulate - it seems somewhat out of place in that it's difficult to grasp, and is contrasted with the other two modes of the GNS theory.  Simulationism is this "different thing."  Nevertheless, there's no question in my mind that Sim exists as presented in GNS-proper, and that Sim can be and is prioritized in play over the other two modes.  Hence, GNS is valid, works, etc.

But.  Just as non-Euclidean geometry works in certain situations, so does this model.  GNS and this model are not entirely compatible, but they are also not mutually exclusive.  They share certain elements, but their use of those elements is slightly different.  This model, like non-Euclidean geometry, is a reaction to an existing theory that questions one of the theory's tenets and presents a "yeah, but..." sort of argument.

So, what is this model good for?  I think it serves as a useful tool for examining play behaviors and aiding design in hybrid games which have Sim as one element of the hybridization.

It works for Gam-Sim games, Nar-Sim games, and to some extent pure Sim games.

As M.J. states, Gam-Nar hybrids exist and/or are plausible.  The only game I can think of that's like this is Once Upon A Time (a card game, not an RPG, but the principles are there).  This model is not useful for analyzing hybrid Gam-Nar play.  But that doesn't make it a useless model.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Wormwood on June 05, 2003, 08:50:29 AM
Mike,

To my mind the major concern about your theory is whether there exists anything which is both high challenge and high theme. Essentially this is the much doubted GN hybrid, or even strongly GNS hybrid. While your theory seems interesting as another way to look at GNS, it clearly assumes that this region of the mode space is unoccupied.

I'm not convinced that there exists a GN hybrid, but I am planning to try to design into one. Simply put, no one has given a good reason for one not to exist. I'm wary about removing the option, simply because it hasn't yet been observed.

   -Mendel S.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2003, 11:17:46 AM
Quote from: Wormwood
To my mind the major concern about your theory is whether there exists anything which is both high challenge and high theme. Essentially this is the much doubted GN hybrid, or even strongly GNS hybrid. While your theory seems interesting as another way to look at GNS, it clearly assumes that this region of the mode space is unoccupied.


Actually that's not true. You'd have a scatter of separate decisions on each side of the axis. In fact, we've discussed twice how TROS, does both theme and challenge. A typical example is where the character issue happens to coincide with winning, say, against a hated foe. This would be represented on the "chart" by dots in both regions. Remember these models are about play, not texts. The dots plotted represent individual decisions. Groups of decisions say something about overall play, but I contend that it's not that the player has a single priority; it's that the player has several priorities each being expressed in play to differing extents with each decision.

Contrary to you, I have no doubt that this sort of play can occur, or that games can and do support it. And the model should support that idea (though apparently for you it doesn't).

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 05, 2003, 12:15:17 PM
So that would mean you disagree with my assessment that this model is not useful for classifying Gam-Nar decisions.  Are you saying that this hybrid is reflected by putting the dot towards the center of the axis?


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Wormwood on June 05, 2003, 12:27:14 PM
Mike,

So, in the geometric sense you have an upper half plane, (one positive definite axis and one positive and negative one) and the following elements are identified as such:

points are individual decisions

curves are player decision collections

compact regions are locations in which a given design supports play.

Even if this is the case, that still implies that no decision can be both theme and challenge, just an eventual pattern of decisions. I'm more certain that that is false, as I recognize decisions of that type in my own play.

If, rather, you are suggesting that a single decision may appear in multiple locations, then it seems that this is a poor representation of your ideas.

To put my original point in the simplest terms, there is an inherent bias that challenge and theme are necessarilly distinct. Even if this can be overcome on the next level of the theory, it is still a concern in terms of generating this bias in the first place. I have yet to see a significant advantage to account for introducing this bias, even though the half-plane does provide some advantages in understanding the nature of Sim play. Simply put, I feel that the model over corrects for the importance of Sim.

I suspect that you are actually thinking in terms of bary-centric coordinates in a triangular system. In this case you have three coordinate axes, but only two dimensions. Each coordinate is based on the distance between the vertex and the point within the triangle. The zero point is on the line opposite the vertex. In this coordinate system, something that is between challenge and theme, are each "half" challenge and "half"  theme, and almost no sim. In the sense you've presented that point indicates nothing, being almost at the origin, and is essentially pure congruence.

The main advantage of bary-centric coordinates is that the actual shape of the triangle is irrelevant. I think this is where your model goes wrong, it suggests, not only that we can think in terms of a 2-dim coordinates for the triangle, but in doing so specifies a shape for the triagle, and in particular a shape which seems too simplistic to avoid adding bias to the model.

I hope that helps clarify things,

    -Mendel S.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 05, 2003, 12:31:10 PM
Hello,

I suggest that people might be interested in reading my breakdown of Gamist play in my new essay (I was expecting today, probably in a day or so) before we get too definite about "challenge," and being too sure about G+N play.

Mendel, in particular, you have mentioned "decisions" a few times, but I think you might be thinking at a scale well below what I consider a valid instance for discussing GNS.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2003, 12:44:14 PM
Sorry for the line by line, but I think it's appropriate here.

Quote
So that would mean you disagree with my assessment that this model is not useful for classifying Gam-Nar decisions. Are you saying that this hybrid is reflected by putting the dot towards the center of the axis?
No. One decision, two dots. Each at the same "elevation (Fidelity Axis), but further left or right based on how far they are from "neutral".

This was not my original intent, but it's a conclusion that has to occur to support the idea that decisions can be prioritize both. Originally I was thinking that you'd put one dot in the middle, but that's no good as it doesn't really tell you anything acurate. To the extent that this might seem overly complicated, this argues for the three D model.  


Quote from: Wormwood
points are individual decisions
Yes.

Quote
curves are player decision collections
Thinking more like scatter diagrams. I imagine that they'd look like shotgun blasts.

Quote
compact regions are locations in which a given design supports play.
Whoa. Who said anything about design? This is, like GNS, just a model that descibes decisions ijn play. It relates to design only in that a design will tend to produce certain patterns (and we want to avoid combinations that are far disparate, and have no mechanism to reconcile these far separate decisions).

Quote
Even if this is the case, that still implies that no decision can be both theme and challenge, just an eventual pattern of decisions. I'm more certain that that is false, as I recognize decisions of that type in my own play.
That's confusing. Decisions are plotted once. Play can be descibed in terms of averaging, but only onlong single axes (or, as I like to think of it, two at a time).

Quote
If, rather, you are suggesting that a single decision may appear in multiple locations, then it seems that this is a poor representation of your ideas.
I wasn't origianally, but now I see that I'd have to as above. Again, this all argues for the 3D model.

Quote
Simply put, I feel that the model over corrects for the importance of Sim.
That was a definite danger. Can I assume you're then pusing for the 3D model?

Quote
I suspect that you are actually thinking in terms of bary-centric coordinates in a triangular system.
Nope, but that might work, ironically. OTOH, I think most people would be more comfortable in 3D. In case it's not clear what that would look like, individial decisions would be like stars in space, with patterns being like clusters of stars.

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Wormwood on June 05, 2003, 01:09:31 PM
Mike,

I guess the long and the short of it, is I'm in favor of the 3D version.

When I mean designs support a compact space in the general space, is that a given design turns out to favor region of play, which can best be defined by some number of bounded portions of the space.

I often end up thinking of the standard GNS in bary-centric coordinates, but a full 3D view is signficantly easier.

I also can't shake off the feeling that what is actually being modelled is a projective space on something else, as is especially evidenced by multiple points being directly associated. On the other hand, I'm not sure I want to open than can of worms.

   -Mendel S.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on June 05, 2003, 05:32:19 PM
Quote from: Addressing me, Mike Holmes
Does the three axis model work for you then?
...and my initial reaction was that it didn't really, because it suggests that I've got multiple priorities involved in individual decisions;
Quote from: but then he
Groups of decisions say something about overall play, but I contend that it's not that the player has a single priority; it's that the player has several priorities each being expressed in play to differing extents with each decision.
...and suddenly I feel like I'm doing vector addition, which I haven't done since Electronics back in high school and don't have a clue how to proceed (how do you multiply something by the square root of negative one anyway?)--but at the same time, I think I agree.

With a distinction.

I think there are two disparate activities; but let's look at an example and go from there.

We've got a decision to make, and we've got a choice that we can value as gamist 10, narrativist 6, simulationist 4. That is, I'm assuming here that a a gamist would view this as a very good way to reach his objectives, a narrativist as a moderate way, and a simulationist as a poor but not terrible way--but I'm quantifying these, because we have a three-vector graph.

Now, in a situation like this, it could be that we've got a gamist, narrativist, and simulationist playing together, and they could agree on the decision if there were no decisions whose value exceeded G10 or N6 or S4; that is, if there's no better choice for anyone, all would agree to this, despite the fact that it represents narrativist interests only moderately and simulationist ones poorly.

Note that this means we would put the decision itself at point (10, 6, 4) on our graph; but at the same time, none of the players cares about that position in total--only that on the one vector on which they are concerned, this was the highest value option.

We would call such play coherent, and if we could design a game in which all decisions always had one option which was best in all three modes, we would call it coherent hybrid design under one of those definitions (the Viet Nam War model).

This is distinct from the sort of player who is looking for something different, something which values all three modes. In this case, let us suppose that he wants decisions with a minimum sim value of 5, a minimum nar value of 7, and a minimum gam value of 8. He would look at this (10, 6, 4) option and compare it to his (8, 7, 5) values, and reject it, because although the gamist value is high enough to meet his desires and then some, both the sim value and the nar value fall short. Thus, despite the fact that he appears to favor gamism (a minimum value of 8), he might go for an option which provided (8, 10, 12), because it was the one that met all his minimums--and suddenly he appears to be prioritizing a simulationist concern.

What intrigues me about this model and makes me seriously consider it is that it might well explain much of my approach to play. Why am I gamist in one situation, simulationist in another, and narrativist in a third? Is it because I'm looking for choices in which each meet a certain minimum, or fall within a particular range, or even do not exceed a certain maximum? I'm not sure; but the three-vector model does raise the possibility, put as you have done.

Thanks for the discussion; this has been very profitable.

And I still think you're on to something with the expected level of fidelity as a separate issue.

--M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Jason Lee on June 05, 2003, 07:04:46 PM
Heh, so in response to Mike's 'does anyone want to defend the model?' I was trying to collect my thoughts on the Is this really Nar? (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=70274) thread for a new assault on M.J.'s post with Sim/Nar Congruence as my battle axe.

However... It looks like I can make a much shorter post.

The three vectored model doesn't break anything for me, so if it clicks for other people I'm for it.  I can say Hi-Sim|Hi-Nar|Lo-Gam and that means functionally the same thing as Hi-Fi|Theme in my mind.

The three vector model maintains the reference to Congruent play as a single priority - which is the important part for me.  It also adds Nar/Gam Congruence to the mix - which I'm personally not sure anyone can actually do at a single decision point, but I do think it would be possible over an instance of play.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 06, 2003, 07:17:07 AM
I think that other than my objection to the fact that it's going to be hard to visualize, and with the caveat that each of the three axes (not just the sim one) has it's own peculiarities in relation to the others, I can accept the 3D model.

Basically, yes, MJ, all that stuff that you said is what I'm imagining. I'd alter it slightly to say that I think that players often are looking at two axes at once, and that one happens to be Sim more than the others, but that this is only a trend that I observe and has no weight a priori. That is, a group will tend to set minimum bars for each, but the Sim one is almost always considered. That is, for even the most Gamist or Thematic action, the sim vector for the decision must be at a level 1, which is the simple internal consistency level. That is, a player cannot say, "I kill the dragon by taking a nuke out of my pocket and forcing him to swallow it." when we all know that nukes don't exist/are too big for pockets/he didn't purchase one earlier. That's magnitude 1 on the sim scale to say that the action taken considers causality on the most basic level. No matter how much players want to allow Gamism, for example, they'll not go below this level.

That said, as I've said before, a postmodern RPG might allow for sim zero, so even this is just an observation about common play.

Stated otherwise, the most basic precepts of the game, the genre expectations, are the minimum sim requirement in most games. The only question is going higher on the sim scale is how many additional points of contact are involved in making the decision more sim: where does the text say you can buy nukes, how commonly available are they, how much do they cost, how much does a character with his profession make, how large are they, how large are pockets in terms of carry cap, etc. Consider all the above and the Sim level skyrockets. Consider only, "I went to get a pocket nuke in a Flash Gordon game", and you have only sim 1.

That's the sort of analysis that one can do with the model. Again, the way I see it, groups establish minimums. That is, players are never dissapointed with "too much" anything. They are only dissapointed when too much of one thing results in too little of another that they have a minimum requirement for. Thus, the Gamist, as an example a player with a minimum Gamism axis requirement of 7, has no problem with simmy or narrativist qualities, but tends to see problems in terms how adversely they affect the minimums. That is, if a narrativist decision because of lack of congruence also has a Gamism vector below 7, then he'll see the decision as problematic. He may or may not be able to identify the cause; but he sure as heck knows what the problem is. This example agrees with your analysis above MJ. But consider the case where a particular decision falls below two axes' minimums.

For the geometry heads, these three minimums on the axes form the "eigth space" of acceptable play for a player. The edges of which will, of course be fuzzy because players are humans and have to rely on imperfect perception, and are imperfectly consistent. In fact, a particular player's "box" will fluctuate in dimensions no doubt.

Again, power is just the authority granted by the game (defined as player using text or agreed to convention) to make decisions with a high vector along a particular axis. Thus, again, Narrativism does not clash with Sim, it clashes with whatever happens to cause the lack of narrativist power. Which may be a designer sim priority, but that's irrelevant.

As to Walt's note (one that I accidentally encouraged) that decisions tend to be problematic when hybrid, and hence less occuring in high combinations, what I'd say is that, if one plots actual decisions, there are fewer where there are multiple vecrtors with high magnitude. So plots of actual play will tend to look something like a leaning umbrellas in this model. That meaning, that density will tend to be found nearer the point at which the three minimums cross. But actually they'll not be densest there, but just a bit above. This is because players will tend to have a safety buffer that makes their decisions more certainly above the minimum. But, yes, as you get above the "umbrella", there are less and less points that occur in most games because there are fewer and fewer actual decisions that can be made that have all three vectors high. Or rather many decision points do not have these plots as representative of a possible choice.

This does not affect the space in which the decisions can be made. As long as there's a theoretical decision that's maximally all three in congruence, then the shape is a space or a box (if you assume some maximal value for a decision).

So, any problems with the 3D vector model of GNS?

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: ethan_greer on June 06, 2003, 07:30:54 AM
I'm on board with the 3D Vector model.  I dig it.

And, I stand by my previous post - but that's become a separate issue.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Cassidy on June 06, 2003, 10:12:13 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
We've got a decision to make, and we've got a choice that we can value as gamist 10, narrativist 6, simulationist 4. That is, I'm assuming here that a a gamist would view this as a very good way to reach his objectives, a narrativist as a moderate way, and a simulationist as a poor but not terrible way--but I'm quantifying these, because we have a three-vector graph.


For each decision though wouldn't you need to plot a point for each player based on how they personally perceive the decision as meeting their own expectations and GNS goals?

The guy making the decision in your example may quantify the decision as being G10,N6,S4 but what if another player with Narrativist priorities sees the decision a little differently, i.e. G13,N2,S5?

I would feel inclined to plot points based on how the player making the decision feels their decision meets the agreed upon GNS goals and expectations of the group as a whole.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: C. Edwards on June 06, 2003, 10:43:14 AM
Hey Cassidy,

Here's how I see it.

Each individual is going to have their own particular layout on the graph for each decision. The person making the decision is going to have a layout, and each of the other people observing that decision will have a layout based on how they perceive that decision. You're also going to have what each player considers to be the baseline of the groups GNS priorities plotted onto the graph. The baseline will most likely vary between each player to one degree or another. So, even a player who thinks that his decisions fall within exceptable parameters may be breaking the boundary of another player's baseline assumptions.

-Chris


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 06, 2003, 10:43:30 AM
Quote from: Cassidy
For each decision though wouldn't you need to plot a point for each player based on how they personally perceive the decision as meeting their own expectations and GNS goals?
Quite so. The minimums may seem consensual, but they may not be. The acceptable play region is defined personally. Coherence is achieved by the system providing a functional commonality of acceptable play regions, and players making decisions in them. The latter part is an essential part of the Social Contract and is assumed.

Quote
The guy making the decision in your example may quantify the decision as being G10,N6,S4 but what if another player with Narrativist priorities sees the decision a little differently, i.e. G13,N2,S5?
Nothing's perfect. There will be occasions like this. Rarely is a player called on a single decision, however. When they are, often they can describe their intentions, and make it clear. Or the "true" nature of the decision will become clear later in other context.

But as it stands I'm aware of nothing that makes a decision exlicit in terms of what it is. That said, some things are more obvious than others. When a player chooses to attack the Baron because his SA indicates that he hates the Baron, that's pretty obvously narrativist. So I think that part of coherent design is sending strong signals in terms of the context of the decisions themselves.

But yes, there will be perceptual differences, and yes, sometimes they cause problems. I have this particular actual example that destroyed an entire game. A player was playing with his girlfriend, and did something that favored his character, and disfavored another player's. The player saw this a purely Social (and Gamist by the new definition), and it seemed to him to be completely without Sim merit. Sim Zero. To him there was no reason that the character would do what he did. To me and the other players, it was a valid choice in that we thought it was not out of character.

Quote
I would feel inclined to plot points based on how the player making the decision feels their decision meets the agreed upon GNS goals and expectations of the group as a whole.
Actually the group doesn't matter much other than they inform the player on what they think are acceptable minimums, and may therefore affect his. But that's Social Contract level. In effect, a decision is made, it's plotted on each player's space, and then it's seen for whether it succeeds in meeting the minimums.

So what analysis of a design does is it says that play in response to certain rules will likely result in decisions that have higher or lower magnitudes in each of the vectors. To the extent that the message is clear, and the rules do not conflict, the game can be said to promote coherent play. That is it's less likely (though not at all ever impossible) that decisions will occur that will dip below the minimum implied by the rules.

That's important as well, it's not just the other players that inform minimums, it's the rules themselves that do. If we're playing Adventure! you assume that most play will be have substantial Sim, except when it comes to using Dramtic Editing. At that point the Sim element drops very low, often to 1, and even to zero if you spend enough points. The rule actually says that with enough points you can do things that don't really make sense, thus providing us with an example of an explicitly sub 1 Sim decision. Maybe call it .5 because it doesn't seem to imply that you can take leave of all sense of causality.

Anyhow, a player reading the rule knows he's supposed to go with high suspension of disbelief (become tolerant of low Sim play), when this rule is used. And as such, it's a coherent rule (though one could debate the overall Sim coherency in Adventure!).

Mike


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Wormwood on June 06, 2003, 11:18:15 AM
Mike,

I very much like the 3-D vector space. But a few suggestions, I'd make about the structure of the space.

Ultimately decisions are dynamic, and it may be a good idea to distinguish the current state of the game, and the currently present decision. The way I see it, is that the context that is Explored is modified by play decisions. If the context is appropriate for player goals, then it remains unmodified, or lightly modified. If it's not, the players start pulling the context around. I see these contexts as regions in the vector space, just like player preferences.

I imagine this game-play region jerkilly being pulled different directions, each player trying to keep part of it over their region of choice. This means we have a natural origin, the accepting decision, which just continues the Exploration as it had been. Calling this (0,0,0) we can open the entire 3-space to study, considering decisions such as (3,0,-2), a trade off between gamist and simulationist objectives. If the current state of the Exploration is high sim, and low gamist, a wide variety of players might make this decision. In the opposite case, the decision may be much less likely.

The thing I like about this perspective, is you can visually imagine the regions moving in a fairly stable, brownian way, for a highly coherent game, and in a jerky tug-of-war in an incoherent one. It also explains quite a bit of the sweet spotting of game play, as well as the evolution of player preferences during play. Heck, it even explains why people playing strongly in one mode, will often make decisions in other modes, simply because their core mode isn't threatened.

I'm still thinking about what this model could mean for hybrid design, in the very least the dynamical perspective would be vastly useful.

I hope that is food for thought,

    -Mendel S.


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Walt Freitag on June 06, 2003, 03:39:34 PM
I think a three-space model is overkill for most purposes. The Beeg Triangle, with corners representing 100%G, 100%S, and 100%N respectively, gives you most of what you need. For instance:

- From a given position, you can represent drift that increases one of G, N, or S while leaving the ratio between the other two the same, as movement directly toward the appropriate vertex.

- From a given position, you can represent drift that sacrifices one priority to enhance another, leaving the prevalence of the third unchanged, as movement perpendicular to the line connecting the present position with the vertex representing the unaffected priority.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, the triangle is a projection of the three-space onto the plane G + N + S = 1.0, bounded within the region in which G >= 0, N >= 0, and S >= 0.

It's generally conceded that most current functional play (leaving aside what might be theoretically possible) that is analyzable in GNS terms is positioned near the edges of the triangle -- that is, represents coherent play (is near one of the corners) or a hybrid with a clear priority and a strong supporting priority (along the edges, especially the N-S and G-S edges, excepting the centers of the edeges.) The centers of the edges represent the hypothetical balanced two-mode hybrids. Ron has opined that such play tends to be unstable, tending to drift closer to one of the adjacent vertices. (Also, drift that jumps across those center-edge points appears to be not uncommon).

What the 2-D projection lacks that the 3-space has is the idea that play can have "more of everything" (G + N + S > 1.0) or "less of everything" (G + N + S < 1.0). These are rather speculative ideas anyway, and I don't see any reason they can't be discussed while still using the triangle for most conventional GNS "mapping." Even reliably functional play in the center of the triangle (G = S = N = 1/3) is dubious under present theory.

- Walt


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: M. J. Young on June 06, 2003, 04:36:51 PM
Quote from: In response to me, Cassidy
For each decision though wouldn't you need to plot a point for each player based on how they personally perceive the decision as meeting their own expectations and GNS goals?

The guy making the decision in your example may quantify the decision as being G10,N6,S4 but what if another player with Narrativist priorities sees the decision a little differently, i.e. G13,N2,S5?

I would feel inclined to plot points based on how the player making the decision feels their decision meets the agreed upon GNS goals and expectations of the group as a whole.

I think this confuses the model with the illustration.

The problem is that in illustrating the model, I scaled the vectors so that I could talk about them coherently. The vectors don't really have an objective scale; they're scaled subjectively. All my statement that a given decision has a G10 value means is that it's more gamist than a G9 value and less so than a G11. If you call that a G13, but you still call the others a G10 and a G15, we're still agreed on the order of the choices along the scale, and merely debating how to express the units. That order  probably is not something that comes into question too often.

We always imagine three-dimensional graphs as being marked in cubes to represent by eye the position of any point; Mike is correct that three-dimensional arrays are difficult for some people to envision, but even so we've all done x/y graphs, and we always use graph paper to do these. Imagine, though, that you've got the graph and you've got the points plotted, but you don't have the increments marked. You can still say that decision M is more gamist than decision N, even if you scale them differently.

Similarly, there is no way to compare the scale of the three axes against each other. You say that what I call a G10 you might call a G13, and what I call an N6 you see as an N2; but what does that mean? It only means that you divide gamist steps into smaller increments and narrativist steps into larger ones. We never said that we were going to play at level N4, because that would be meaningless. Rather, we came to some sort of implicit agreement that there would be a minimum level of narrativism and all played at or above that level. That you call it "2" and I call it "6" means nothing.

What matters in your example is that the gamist player thought decision M was high enough to meet the minimum N value as he understood it, and the narrativist thought it was not. That doesn't really mean that the N value of the decision itself was disagreed; it only means that the minimum value for N (which we have already recognized is social, implicit, and in some sense amorphous) has not been agreed satisfactorily.

The one challenge presented so far to this would be
Quote from: what Mike
A player was playing with his girlfriend, and did something that favored his character, and disfavored another player's. The player saw this a purely Social (and Gamist by the new definition), and it seemed to him to be completely without Sim merit. Sim Zero. To him there was no reason that the character would do what he did. To me and the other players, it was a valid choice in that we thought it was not out of character.

If it were really true that the offended player thought this was S0 while others thought it was higher, that would be a problem. However, I can't imagine that any action that was truly S0 would not be obviously so to everyone involved--taking the pocket nuke out and using it on the dragon, perhaps. There's no suggestion that the character broke the bounds of the possible with his decision. The question seems to be whether this was a credible action for the character in this context, that is sufficiently credible to meet the minimum S for the game. The offended character is, of course, biased; it may be that at this moment, not liking to have been out-gamed, rather than objecting that the G value was too high he objects that the S value was too low. He may just have raised his bar of minimum S values for play; that's more than I know. I'm inclined to think that there is an inherent stigma against claiming that anyone else's play is too high on any axis--you can't say that someone's play is too competitive, to thematic, too realistic, without sounding judgmental, so instead you say that it isn't enough of something else. Realistic was the thing that this player used, no doubt because it's easy to recognize that unrealistic play is bad (whereas non-competetive or non-thematic play would be seen as personal preference--a prejudice, not a fact).

So I think this notion of different people "rating" the elements differently is only true in the most superfluous sense--that of comparing elements on one vector with those on another. You can't have a scale that allows such comparisons. What matters is only what things are higher or lower on each scale, and where each player sets his minimums and maximums relative to those things.

What would disprove this would be a solid example in which players considered two options to be grossly reversed in value on the same scale. If someone were to say that having Luke turn off his targeting computer in attacking the Death Star is a 12N where having him defeat it with the computer on would be a 2N, and someone else in the same situation would say that having him turn off the computer was actually a 2N and a 12N would be achieved by leaving it on (or similarly for G and S variables, in the same moment of play in the same game), that would mean that the judgment of the values of such choices was too subjective for the vectors themselves to be absolute (across the group).

The notion that one player would consider one choice slightly higher than another and another player would reverse them is not in my opinion sufficient evidence, as such nuances of difference would only indicate the difficulty of measurement.

--M. J. Young


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 06, 2003, 05:38:47 PM
Hi there,

GNS is currently not represented by any graphics at all, no, not even a triangle. This has two consequences ...

1. I am not at all sure what Mike's construction is an alternative to.

2. Nor am I 100% sure just what that construction is any more. As first presented, it was a bit of a change, at least in explanatory terms. As currently stated, I guess I'm seeing plain old [Exploration[GNS]] as I've been stating all along, just with "Sim" being extended up/back into the Explore box.

Best,
Ron


Title: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited
Post by: Valamir on June 06, 2003, 08:05:22 PM
I lost any connection I saw in this thread back on page two or thereabouts.

I'm not even certain what's being discussed at this point.

What started as an idea to pry Sim loose from the trinity and make it an overlay on top of G or N has morphed into something I don't even recognize.

At this point, IMO, this thread needs to close down and perhaps in a few days when the discussion has been digested by the participants a new one that cuts to the chase with some better clarity can begin..