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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Ian O'Rourke on May 08, 2001, 01:50:00 PM



Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 08, 2001, 01:50:00 PM
Okay, I understand why it could be viewed as simulationist (and may be it is), as it puts all its mechanics into simulating an action movie world. What concerns me more is the can of worms this seems to open in terms of what games CAN be considered simulationist?

Heh, lines don't have to finely drawn, but it creates an interesting twist...


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 08, 2001, 02:30:00 PM
Hey,

Well, I asked for this thread, so here goes.

First of all, my definition of Simulationism in the thread "a variant phylogeny" is what I'm going by, and although it's rude to give you a reading assignment, I'll just mention that rather than repeating it here. It's really the first time I expressed the definition in an operational fashion, and I think it accounts for the various permutations pretty well.

Feng Shui fits that bill perfectly - there is no Author stance, actions' order is established and carried out in that order, and events are handled chronologically in real-time just as they are in game-time.

Perhaps the problem is that for 20 years, Simulationist priorities were expressed almost 100% by one, standard set of design principles - Harnmaster, RuneQuest, a variety of FGU and SPI games, all of them show that one standard set. So that means that we now tend to mistake this one HIGHLY influential, widespread expression of Simulationism for the whole category.

Gareth Hanrahan, I think, has one of the best understandings of the "new" Simulationism. He and I have kicked around the differences between Narrativist and simulation-of-narrative, and I hope he joins in here.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mytholder on May 08, 2001, 03:18:00 PM
Er. I still wake up in cold sweats screaming "Feng Shui is narrativist!" sometimes.

Seriously - Feng Shui's a fuzzy borderline case. My new way of describing it is that it simulates being in a story, it doesn't promote the creation of a good story. A fun Feng Shui game can be full of elements from a classic action movie plot, but ensuring that those elements form a cohesive and pleasing story isn't a primary goal of the game.

Games like Blue Planet or Ars Magica are, I think, simulationist without being bogged down in precise mathemathical modelling. The common element in all three games is the creation of an active shared world, in which the players can explore being their characters. Narrativism isn't as concerned with the setting as it is with the story.

(And this is where Feng Shui is wierd, 'cos it's setting *is* a story....)

Oh - Ron? Remember our old arguments about sketchy/rich characters and settings? I suspect rich/rich may be an indication of simulationism, rich/sketchy narrativism, and gamism can be either sketchy/sketchy or sketchy/rich...



Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 08, 2001, 03:47:00 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... Gareth Hanrahan. Everything he said about Simulationism just now? I'm with it.

As far as the sketchy/rich stuff goes (bear with us folks, the Gar and I have been doing this for a long time), my call is as follows:
- rich PC + sketchy setting = strong Narrativist potential
- sketchy PC + rich setting = strong Narrativist potential
- sketchy PC + sketchy setting = low Narrativist potential, or perhaps high potential for fast & shallow story
- rich PC + rich setting = low Narrativist potential, usually requiring severe trimming of one or the other by the individual play group.

I really don't know how these apply to G or S, except that as you rightly point out, many Simulationist game designs end up being rich-rich. I suspect that both that and sketchy-sketchy are probably the way to go for Simulationism ...

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ian O'Rourke on May 09, 2001, 05:14:00 AM
Quote

As written by Ron:
Perhaps the problem is that for 20 years, Simulationist priorities were expressed almost 100% by one, standard set of design principles - Harnmaster, RuneQuest, a variety of FGU and SPI games, all of them show that one standard set. So that means that we now tend to mistake this one HIGHLY influential, widespread expression of Simulationism for the whole category.


I think your probably right here, I know I've had simulationism pretty much pinned down as about 'simulating reality'. I do think this is because of the prevalence of the games you mention above. After all, RuneQuest and Harnmaster are pretty much legendary.

Quote

As written by Gareth:
Games like Blue Planet or Ars Magica are, I think, simulationist without being bogged down in precise mathemathical modelling. The common element in all three games is the creation of an active shared world, in which the players can explore being their characters. Narrativism isn't as concerned with the setting as it is with the story.


Now this is the interesting bit. I think I've had the whole G/N/S thing down wrong. Well, not so much wrong, but I've certainly had the definition of one element too narrow (simulationism) and another facet set too wide (narrativism). I would have labelled Ars Magica as narrativist, for instance. The reason for this being it is about characters and story. You're right though, it's about characters and story, within the confines of simulating the whole medieval covenant. It's simulating a specific setup.

I think I've been rating games from the viewpoint of how I play them rather than what is being objectively expressed in the rules…

To be honest, I now believe I have not played a truly narrativist based rules set? I believe I use good level of narrativist concepts in my games (though far from the whole toolbox) but I've never played a pure narrativist game.

I've got Over the Edge, The Whispering Vault, Sorcerer and The Window all on my shelf - they remain read, but not played.

Mmmmm, I'll have to think about that more


[ This Message was edited by: Ian O'Rourke on 2001-05-09 16:05 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Ian O'Rourke on 2001-05-09 16:06 ]


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 10, 2001, 06:40:00 AM
Hi Ian,

Whew! We are really getting somewhere here.

The whole "Simulationism = realism" thing has been a problem from the beginning. I've repeated my take on it many times - "realism is a historical subset of Simulationism" - but for some reason, possibly because of the incredible influence of RuneQuest (which IS a superior example of THIS TYPE of role-playing design), it really takes a long time to sink in.

I also think that you've stated one of the reasons why some prominent GO contributors insist that they are Narrativist (usually in addition to Simulationist) - they mistake DELIVERING a story to their players for CREATING a story WITH their players.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 10, 2001, 08:07:00 AM
Could we suppose that cinematics is another subset of simulationist goals?

This would account for the fact that Feng Shui slips under the radar? The general assumption is since it reinforces movie conventions that it is somehow related to narrative.

Feng Shui, I believe, is a good way to break a realist gamer from their bias since it maintains a consistency that is defiantly not reality based.

Interestingly, Feng avoids the balance issue of gamism by favoring named over unnamed which is nearly opposite the impartial physical reality that the realist desires.

This probably where my appreciation of simulation comes from. A straight no chaser world.

George

Aside- Now here's something I'd like to know. Is there any examples of psychological realism in games? Most realism seems to concentrate on nuts & bolts reality. If there is one it would be hard to spot since it could be mistaken for narrative, especially since it would have to be character centered to some degree.

     


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 10, 2001, 08:22:00 AM
George,

"Could we suppose that cinematics is another subset of simulationist goals?"

In this case, yes. Thus under "simulationism" we see "realism" and "cinematics." However, this can lead to a whole slew of categories, corresponding to a wide variety of source materials. Since the philosophy of Simulationism is rock-solid consistent under the nuances of each setting/genre, I'd rather not develop any elaborate categorization of these sorts of differences. The shift from world/setting to character-experience, as described and referenced by Paul, is probably the main sub-set variable within Simulationism that seems the most important.

Also, more generally, I'm leary of "cinematics" as design term, as it can apply to many things besides just cinema-physics. It can apply to the length and scope of a story-creating endeavor, for instance, which is a strictly Narrativist concern.

"This would account for the fact that Feng Shui slips under the radar? The general assumption is since it reinforces movie conventions that it is somehow related to narrative."

Well put. It's the same reason people mistake Call of Cthulhu for a Narrativist game, as it is based on a body of literature, so it's somehow "story-oriented."

"Feng Shui, I believe, is a good way to break a realist gamer from their bias since it maintains a consistency that is defiantly not reality based."

If that's a goal, then yes, it would be good for that (just as Champions was in the early 80s, with its knockback and soliloquy rules). However, it is not the game I'd pick for Narrativist purposes.

"Interestingly, Feng avoids the balance issue of gamism by favoring named over unnamed which is nearly opposite the impartial physical reality that the realist desires."

This sentence puzzles me, because on the one hand we're dealing with "balance" (one of the most problematic terms in role-playing), which you are using in the gamist/fairness sense, and on the other hand we're dealing with the realist, which is a sub-set of Simulationism … so your point is kind of opaque to me.  

"Aside- Now here's something I'd like to know. Is there any examples of psychological realism in games? Most realism seems to concentrate on nuts & bolts reality. If there is
one it would be hard to spot since it could be mistaken for narrative, especially since it would have to be character centered to some degree."

This is more than an aside - this is a BIG topic, which begins with (a) the Sanity rules in Cthulhu and (b) the psychological disadvantages in Champions. Whole new thread for this one, I think.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 10, 2001, 09:24:00 AM
I'm going to have to cast my vote against 'cinematic' as a valid subset of Simulationism. If you want to break it up, I think your best division might be between 'realism' and 'simulation of genre' (or genre-Simulationism).

I'm actually quite divided on trying to decide if Dying Earth is narrativist (my first guess) or simulationist (which is what I've grown to think it is.) It does simulate with frightening detail the world of Jack Vance's books.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 10, 2001, 09:45:00 AM
Interesting, Clinton...'cause I see Dying Earth as being extraordinarily Narrativist.  It emulates the characters and stories from Vance's novels -- but the game mechanics and setting do not appear Simulationist at all.  It's rules-heavy Narrativism!

My take on Simulationism is that it's "the real world + X" where X is magic and a dying sun, or vampires, or superheroes, or megacorps and cybernetics.  A simulationist Dying Earth game would be like any of those other games with one plug-in removed and replaced with the "Dying Earth" plug-in.

IMHO, Simulationism is quickly becoming an invalid design decision because ideally, any simulationist game could conceivably be run under a one system, many plug-ins model -- and if the ideal system was created, you could use that for ANY situation (ie: the GURPS, BESM, Palladium, BRPS model) by plugging in the "+Vampires" or "+post-nuclear survival" add-ons.  So while I don't see a One Perfect System for Gamism or Narrativism because there are so many different ways to approach that goal (what consitites winning?  what kind of story and what issues are we dealing with?), Simulationist games have only one goal (accuracy) and one way to approach that goal (more realism/accuracy!).  Therefore (be it rules heavy or rules light), there would seem to be a theoretical Perfect System that could handle any Simulationist game.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 10, 2001, 09:45:00 AM
My call on The Dying Earth, without having played it (YET), is this: hard-core Narrativist with strong setting.

Another big danger-pit is mixing up setting-detail, which CAN be an excellent component of Narrativism (usually in conjunction with sketchy starting PCs, as in Dying Earth, god that Robin Laws knows what he is doing), with the attention to physical-detail and consistency found in many Simulationist RPGs. Not the same thing for a minute, in my opinion.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mytholder on May 10, 2001, 11:32:00 AM
Jared -
I don't think you're going to have One Perfect System for simulationism. I agree that it's normally about tweaking one variable, then seeing what happens to the world, but simulationist games want a lot of detail on the areas affected by the tweak, and less detail elsewhere. For example - Ars Magica goes into a great deal of detail on magic and spellcraft, but doesn't have much in the way of personality mechanics, because ars magica is supposed to be "real(ish) history + magic". The End has personality mechanics because it's "the real world + the absence of people".


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mytholder on May 10, 2001, 11:34:00 AM
George asked
Quote

Aside- Now here's something I'd like to know. Is there any examples of psychological realism in games?


I'd put forward Unknown Armies' madness meters as an example.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 10, 2001, 12:38:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-10 15:34, Mytholder wrote:
George asked
Quote

Aside- Now here's something I'd like to know. Is there any examples of psychological realism in games?


I'd put forward Unknown Armies' madness meters as an example.


Oops. I guess I should have said psycho-realistic games. While the madness meters are great, it is a single component. I was thinking in terms of simulationist games seem to focus heavily on reflecting a physical reality.

Kult comes to mind when I think of failed "heavy" mechanics used to prop up psychological premises. Neat setting, just not a great system as far as I could tell.

George



Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 10, 2001, 12:47:00 PM
Sorry my idea was opaque to you, Ron . Abit of lexicon confusion on my part.(Must keep terms straight!)I'll try a recast.

The reason I never though of FS as simulationist was because it did not conform to my previous narrow view of the style. I, and don't think I am alone of this, often think of realism and simulation as being the same thing.  Of course it's not but I guess it has something to do with it being easier to get me head around. ("Is it real?" is easier to get across others than "Is it internally consistent?"

Then there is FS itself. It certainly favors the PCs over the GMCs. A majority of your GMCs are mooks, designated cannon fodder for the PCs' antics.  The game is slanted toward players and named characters. The PCs are also able to "write" things into fights if it makes it more interesting. Locations are more fluid than they are in the realistic version of simulation. Now this doesn't give the pc the ability to be a full blown director but it is a little more than mere author.  FS is very overt in its favoritism.

Looking back to the definition of simulationism as condensed in the original essay has this little bit about  " [it] creates a pocket universe without fudging." FS is so broad in some cases,  fudging is actually part of the simulation! I would not wish for Cinematics to be taken for yet another overlay onto the three fold but a unique subset of a pre-existing fold. Heck, the Simulationist definition implies the existence of subsets.

As someone who tried a long time ago to jam narrativism into simulationism, I know the appeal of the Realist subset. It is a desire for true impartiality. But as is evidenced by all this GNS talk, impartiality is an illusion. It is all about the guidelines one uses to decided what they will be partial to. And "genre simulation", for lack of a better term, offers a more character centered model.  Perhaps not deep but certainly off center from the traditional impartial reality that the realist thinks they need for player "control".

All this grousing about Cinematics and FS has made me think. How much of realistic simulation is just safeguards against "inappropriate" play for indiscriminate gamers?(ie Falling and swimming charts to stop people from leaping insane distances all the time or swimming the Atlantic Ocean on a lark.)

George

   


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 10, 2001, 12:48:00 PM
Ron...

Dying Earth is hardcore Narrativist but there really isn't much to the setting.  A few locations, some creatures (that aren't too defined) and some notable personages.

What is very defined is the structure of the game (games should contain a bunch of different variables that are laid out in the "How to GM" section -- weird customs, strange magick, "casual cruelty," etc.).  The style is very definite as well...from the characters (the characters are pretty generic in terms of their personalities) to the magic system (very specific spells).

In this respect it bears resemblance to Whispering Vault, Schism, InSpectres, etc...where each game episode is explicitly made up of the same components and "everything in between" tells the real story.

Mythie...that's what I mean by plug-ins.  I think that the theoretical Perfect Simulationist System (the PSS) would in fact be able to handle Ars Magic and Blue Planet.  However, the magic plug-in would be removed (or not used) when playing on Poseidon and the future-tech, biomods and cetacean plug-ins would not be used when in Mythic Europe.  The core rules would be ultra-generic, which is counter to how a Gamist or Narrativist game should be designed.

- J


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 10, 2001, 12:55:00 PM
A word about Stance and Simulationist games...

I think that a huge part of a Simulationist game is the idea the the future is more or less "closed off" to the players.  The GM runs the world, the players run the PC's and never the twain shall meet.  This carries with it a feeling that the GM is God and the events are known only to Him.  Then you have the players' characters trying to figure out what will happen...or just playing along with whatever does happen.

So really, it's not a "realism" factor insomuch as it's a Stance issue.  Maybe that is really the sole determining factor?  In which case, Feng Shui has a strong narrativist element, but may be a bit broken and unfocused because it seems to want to take on all three sides of the model?  Can Feng Shui be thought of as a failed experiement?  I know that when I read and played it, something felt a bit "off."

A strong video-game mentality (the "shot" action mechanic, the Kung Fu schticks that seem like power-ups)...

A very specific setting where the PC's get to play...

A cinematic, free-wheeling combat system where players are encouraged to make stuff up and try for the craziest stunts possible...

- J


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 10, 2001, 02:37:00 PM
But note that announcing a stunt makes the planned action HARDER to accomplish, whereas in Extreme Vengeance, the kookier the stunt, the MORE likely it will be pulled off successfully.

I consider that a very significant feature of Feng Shui's Simulationist roots/goals (whichever, who knows?) in its design philosophy.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Jared A. Sorensen on May 10, 2001, 02:45:00 PM
I realize that, Ron...that's why I think it's broken.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 10, 2001, 04:40:00 PM
An important point about stunts in Feng Shui is the following taken from the rules themselves

"Since we want to encourage flashy attack descriptions, the GM should not assess an Action Value penalty to attacks that seek no extra benefit, even if they sound more difficult than a basic attack." (Feng Shui core rules pg 128)

To my understanding, this allows the GM to disregard combat modifiers if they see fit.
No small thing that.

George

[ This Message was edited by: George Pletz on 2001-05-10 20:44 ]


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2001, 09:08:00 AM
George,

It is, I think, a very small point. The benchmark stunt with any benefit at all is -2. The cool-but-no-benefit stunt gets you ZERO PENALTIES.

The best (least-disadvantaged) roll I get for stunts is ZERO PENALTIES? This is considered encouragement?

And that's only for stunts that are (effectively) useless. Let's consider stunts that DO confer a benefit (e.g. striking two foes at once) - and I ask, of Feng Shui, "Why should they be harder?"

And again: "Why should they be harder?" I suggest that in a game whose goal is to promote flashy, fun action, that stunts should make announced actions EASIER and MORE EFFECTIVE. Positive reinforcement.

This is not a critique of Feng Shui as a "bad game," mind you, but it is ample evidence of its Simulationist priorities, in terms of how an action is announced, how its difficulties are assessed, and how they are resolved.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 13, 2001, 04:48:00 PM
Hey Ron,

Point taken. I mention this only to bring us back to the text itself. It seems we are getting away from the text. To discuss the intentions of a game we need to keep it in sight. From where I am sitting this bit of text can be used to support a variety of opinions. IF the GM would implement a tweak in your direction would it change anything? I don't necesaarily trust my intial impression.


George


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 13, 2001, 07:41:00 PM
Hey,

You mean, if the GM went and gave, say, bonuses for stunts instead of penalties? It would certainly match MY preferences for play, for whatever that's worth.

But that's exactly your concept of "drift" at work, right? And if I understand the conclusion we came to about that, drift can go any which way.

Anyway, I do agree with your point about the text. If we're talking about G/N/S and game design, we really have to focus on that, as well as our own experiences during play based on that text.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: George Pletz on May 14, 2001, 04:56:00 AM

Thing is that these proposed stunt bonuses may have side effects that are not immediately noticable. For example. you might have to ratchet up the mooks.

So, yes, we are talking about drift here.

My experience with house rules has always come from shortcomings in play, not from the game text itself.

To FS' credit , it seems like a very house rules friendly type of game. Porting things in and out of it seems like it would be a cinch.

In fact the next time I run it, I already have some ideas about some slight adjustments I gathered from my first play experiences.

George

[ This Message was edited by: George Pletz on 2001-05-14 09:27 ]


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 23, 2001, 06:36:00 AM
FS is simulationist under the letter of the definition. But using this definition restricts Narrative games to only a few relatively new systems. I think the original Dramatist definition allowed for games that had even just an attempt at promoting story; intent was enough. The thought was that if you told people that the game was about stories (like Storyteller) that this would cause at least some players to get the idea and play that way. It is Ron's "System" essay that says that intent matters little and the judgement should be made soley from the actual mechanics. Hence the dissonance in the perception of what is Narrativist to a certain degree. Many games that claim a narrativist intent have actual simulationist mechanics. Which, of course, suits me fine. I don't mind good stories; I just don't want them to get in the way of my simulation.

Jared, you are right about Simulationism and the One True System. This is why we simulationists like GURPS and Hero System (Ron always refers to as Chammpions) so much. They have all the plug-ins that you could require. Actually, GURPS works via plug-ins, Hero can simulate just about anything with one set of rules (genius to a simulationist). To that extent Fuzion and BESM are attempts at creating faster moving versions of these systems. None of these systems are perfect, but they all do well enough to satisfy most simulationists.

This is where certain simulationist design priorities come in to question. There are those for whom the Simulation is more about how well the mechanics emulate a consistent "game reality" (as opposed to real world reality). And there are those concerned more with the role-playing aspects of that same simulation. This is of course an ancient division, but it still exists. The point being, that there is a (to me at least) valid group of role-players out there who seek to experience the world through possibly complex game mechanics (as well as another who seek to simulate via role-play).

Now, I know that this is anathema to most narrativists. And some might even say that it is not role-playing in the strictest sense (the same people often rail against Gamists, however). But there are people who like to assemble the most complex set of rules together, make statistically complicated characters, and set those characters loose into a mechanically complicated world and see what happens. I am by turns one of these peeople. Interestingly, I have problems with Rolemaster, but not one of them has to do with the complexity. In fact I've been known to add rules to Rolemaster that made it a whole lot more complicated in attempt to fix those problems that I have percieved with it. And we have fun playing this system; believe it or not.

I bring this up because there seems to be some sentiment that this is a broken form of Simulationism. And while no game will probably provide a perfect simulation of any game world, for us those that try hardest are the most satisfacory. What makes up for any lack of perfection in the system is the fact that it's still a role-playing game. That portion of the simulation (actual role-playing) is as good as the players make it. It is only the narrativist who sees a rules light or character focused Simulationist game as superior to a mechanics or world focused game. Please leave the Simulationist priorities to the Simulationists.

These portions of simulation correspond to a certain extent with Paul's proposed simulationist phylogeny. However, I'll agree with Ron on this one, as the way I see it both goals are persued by turns by most simulationists. I suppose giving up on the mechanical side entirely could be considered a movement, but the overall proirity is the same; simulate the game world.

Mike Holmes


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 23, 2001, 07:03:00 AM
Mike,

We're in agreement here on numerous levels. Let me try to pinpoint the primary agreement, as well as to take some issues with a detail or two.

Simulationism comes in many sub-categories (like any of the three priorities). The two that seem most prevalent today are (a) genre-depiction, including the genre known as "reality"; and (b) experiencing one's role in Actor stance, best articulated by the E-thing (god damn it, I really mean to write this on a sticky-note so I can refer to it with respect; I'm NOT making fun by calling it the E-thing, I'm just stupid). Here's where we agree - these sub-categories are a reality, and they are expressed by different sorts of mechanics within a shared conceptual framework.

Regarding (a) above, you state,
"there seems to be some sentiment that this is a broken form of Simulationism"

Not by me. Not by anyone on this forum. Not by anyone who's interested in Narrativist priorities. This sentiment resides wholly in the other sub-category. The E-thing movement is wholly Simulationist and is stated, on that website at least, with a very strong value judgment on the matter. Thus you have people who prize Simulationism making the very judgment you object to - this is a conflict between sub-categories, within the same general priority.

For the record, I think it's silly to launch claims of superiority in that context. Here, I think, we also agree - I'd add my objection to yours.

"It is only the narrativist who sees a rules light or character focused Simulationist game as superior to a mechanics or world focused game."

Again, I think you're pegging the wrong folks. For one thing, you've unfairly lumped rules-light with Narrativist priorities - which is entirely unwarranted. If there's one solid insight that's come out of my System essay and stood up to every challenge, it's that Narrativism is only rules-light with respect to using Simulationist systems of a specific period. If I were to use, say, Purgatory or Agent X (which are more recent Simulationist games with very light systems), you'd see me injecting tons of rules, not stripping them out.

Best,
Ron


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 07:38:00 AM
Ron,

While it is true that the majority here have no problem with any specific sort of play, my response about the bias against system-heavy Simulationism was prompted by no less then three post that used derogatory terminology when refering to it. One I think was "Abomination". Do I really have to find and quote them all? Can you take my word for it that I wouldn't have responded if I hadn't seen it being attacked? Not to mention that it serves to defend the position against anybody else who might come by and not know. I felt the need, so I wrote.

I do not mean to imply that Narrativism implies "rules-lite", and I'd think that you'd know that I understand that by now. However, what I am saying if you read carefully is that the people who are most likely to misunderstand, or thouroughly unappreciate rules-heavy Simulationism are Narrativists as this particular priority (lots of rules that do nothing for the story) is anathema to them. I understand that they can appreciate that I like it, but those that really hate it will tend to be narrativists. You, yourself claim that of all styles you understand the motivation to Simulationism least.

Probably not an interesting point, and probably unprovable, so if it gets us past it I'll concede it. Not really my thrust anyhow. Lets just say that I have at times felt that there was some serious rejection of Rules-heavy Simulation as a valid form and I wanted to voice my objection.

Thanks for providing a forum in which to do so,
Mike Holmes


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 07:51:00 AM
BTW, I may give the impression that I have a prediliction for Rules-Heavy gaming. This is somewhat inaccurate. I don't mind rules-heavy games, and play them often. But in the vein of the discussion of "The One True Game" what would of course be superior, is a system that is in fact rules-lite (and therefore quick and easy) and yet delivers all the verisimillitude of a game with many more rules. This may be a pipe dream, and the playability vs. believeability debate has raged for ages amongst we Simulationists.

Feng-Shui does an excellent job in my opinion of achieving a certain balance in this regard, but this is made easier by the simplicity of the genre being emulated. CoC by focusing on simulation of that specific adventure type is also excellent (although you can throw out all but the sanity rules and replace them with any other Simulationist system and it works as well). And the generic games are all good in my opinion, although I have been coming to the conclusion lately that point based chargen is gamist. I have been using these systems without the points, therefore, lately.

Mike Holmes


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 11:46:00 AM
I guess its now my turn to ask "why the resistance".

Why the resistance to acknowledgeing that Simulation probably isn't the best choice of terms to be using.

Why this insistance on trying to defend why Simulation SHOULD be used.  Ron, your take on what Simulation means as it pertains to your model has been given dozens of times (so many times that on occassion I've witnessed you get a little sharp with people for having to explain it once again).

Simulation is a POOR term to mean what you are trying to describe.  The reason you have to keep rexplaining it is because the word already has a definition, that definition is contrary to yours and that definition has been around ALOT longer than yours has.

Wargames use the term "simulation" to mean a type of game which very accurately and realistically depicts the games events.  Those events are almost universally historical (aka "real world") battles, or based on plausible real world what ifs (like science fiction simulations).

PC Games use the term "simulation" in contrast to "arcade-style".  Most often a racing game, flying game, or sports game.  If the game is a realistic portrayal of the physics and performance of a car it is a racing "SIM".  If it is a wild whip the wheel around joy ride it is an "arcade racer".

That is why you keep running into a wall regarding this term.  In my oppinion...they were there first, they got first dibs on what the word means.  We need to find something that better reflects our use of it.

And as Ian pointed out in the opening post of this thread...the current definition of "Simulation" is a very slippery slope.  Virtually ANY game could be categorized as a simulation once you remove the realism restriction.  

This model, as useful as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg.  We're just beginning to even identify the tools we can use to examine games.  The Tool Box includes: the three fold model, karma-fortune-drama mechanics, stance, etc.  These things are not finished products, they're just a starting point.

I'm having trouble understanding why you're so insistant on using this particularly word.  A word which is imminently inappropriate, and which you yourself started a thread questioning if it even fits in the model.  I say, no it doesn't fit in the model because its the wrong word emphasising the wrong things.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 24, 2001, 03:45:00 PM
Wow, your really on a crusade...

I shouldn't try and stop you, really; you're fighting for my cause in a lot of ways. But I do see both sides of this one.

Mike Holmes


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Valamir on May 24, 2001, 06:28:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-05-24 19:45, Mike Holmes wrote:
Wow, your really on a crusade...


I don't know about crusade, I'm not here to sack Jerusalem :smile:

But since I did just kind of pop into the Forge unannounced and jump in with both feet, I probably should take a minute to explain my motivations.

First:  I really love these models.  I've learned more about game design theory in the last year or so that I've been on GO and the Sorcerer forum in particular than in my previous 20 odd years of gaming.  I didn't even realise there were groups of people discussing this sort of thing as if it were some deep life philosophy.  I want to contribute to that process.

Second:  I'm an Investment Manager by trade.  We use lots of models.  One of the first things you learn if you want to be successful for more than one business cycle is that models are fundamentally flawed and incomplete.  If a thing could be known with certainty, we wouldn't need a model to describe it.  Models attempt to take a temendously complex situation and boil it down to a few key generalizations.  The purpose is not to provide right and wrong answers but to give insight and point to underlying themes and trends that hopefully can be utilized.  In my work utilized to make money.  Here, utilized to improve the quality of game design and the matching of players to appropriate games.
      Often times, however, in support of the merits of a particular model one gets too attached to it.  There is ALOT of time and effort that goes into coming up with economic models, I'm sure alot of time and effort has gone into these.  The danger is in losing sight of the fact that the one thing that can always be said about EVERY model ever created is that its imperfect.  If one follows economic news, cast your mind back a year or so to the plight of Long Term Capital Management.  An organization of Nobel prize winners who almost plunged the world into global depression because they believed their models to be flawless.
       I know Ron et.al. know all of this but sometimes I get concerned when I see these models being defended too vehemently that perhaps we're losing sight of the point to them, which as I see it (and I'm sure everyone here does too) is NOT to come up with the perfect way to categorize games and gamers but rather to to provide analytical tools for examining game designs.  Scarlet Jester is using his version of the model as the core of his design decisions when helping Seth develop Alyria.  If that effort is successful it will be vindication for the whole concept of these models and far more important than details.

Third:  Models are and should constantly be refined.  There will never be a time when the GNS or GEN or whatever models are complete and we can say "ok, work on that model is done now".  Doesn't work that way.  No model is ever complete unless it is so over generalized as to be useless.  When presented with a means of making the model a more powerful tool, that means should be fully explored and adopted if it proves to be more powerful, or incorporated if it offers some additional insight but not enough to replace an existing component, or scraped if its usefullness proves illusionary.  What bothers me here in recent threads is the idea that Simulationist should be kept because its what has been being used.  When creating a model it is inherently dangerous to inflate the value of a variable by considering inertia as a benefit.  Simulationist and Explorative should be examined on their own merits, side by side, with absolutely no predelection for Simulationist simply because its been whats been being used for awhile.

Fourth:  I was recently invited to join in some discussions with SJ on this issue.  The case that Explorative is a superior category to Simulationist is a compelling one, and one I've come to agree with.  At the very least it deserves very serious and detailed examination...not rather flippant dismissal as the "e-word".  What bothers me most is there seem to be an awful lot of people who admit to not being (or in some cases even knowing) simulationist players who nevertheless feel qualified enough to close the book on that category as if the current definition is the right one.  I submit that in debating the pros and cons of simulationist vs explorative one should actually consult people who are simulationist or explorative players as to what the terms mean to them, not simply rely on a core group of self professed narrativists to make the call.

Wow.  That was much more long winded than I originally intended.  Sorry about that.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on May 24, 2001, 11:39:00 PM
In case there's a miscommunication here . . . "e-thing" and "E-word" are, I think, used here to refer to the "Eläytyjist" approach espoused (in what looks like a TRUE crusade) at:

http://live.roolipeli.net/turku/school/index.html

While there may be some relationship between the above and Explorationism, I don't think people mean "Explorationist" when they say "E-word" here.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Valamir on May 25, 2001, 05:10:00 AM
Ahh, i apologize for my misconception.  I have perused the Turku's but was unfamiliar with the reference to Elajies as the "E-word".


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 25, 2001, 08:12:00 AM
I agree with everything in your post and myself ranted recently that we should test the model constantly. As a statistician I compose and revise models every day trying to keep up with the real world.

But the problem is, as I've said before that I still remain unconvinced that in this case that the discussion of Explorative has done more than refine or better illuminate what Simulationism has always really meant. It strikes me that this is just a specific version of James' axes tilt theory happening in practice, at most.

Cut description - paste it after the word Simulationist. Problem solved. As I said, my main argument against it is that changing the model whenever we like a new word for an old thing is likely to cause confusion. I can see us explaining. "Well, Explorative means exactly what we formerly meant when we used the term Simulationist, but we changed it because people misunderstood when we called it Simulationist."

That won't help. At this point we would refer them to the definition. And at that point what does it matter which term we use? Hell, lets call it Ploort, because that has no baggage whatsoever and will only be used by people who really understand it. If that Finnish word were all inclusive of the style we could use that, as I have no idea what the literal translation of Elijiyat (or however the heck it's spelled) is.

As I've stated before, I don't see this as anything truely new. I have an open mind, however; so if you can convince me that this is a real change to the model...

Mike Holmes

[ This Message was edited by: Mike Holmes on 2001-05-25 12:17 ]


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Valamir on May 25, 2001, 08:53:00 AM
Quote

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

Cut description - paste it after the word Simulationist. Problem solved. As I said, my main argument against it is that changing the model whenever we like a new word for an old thing is likely to cause confusion. I can see us explaining. "Well, Explorative means exactly what we formerly meant when we used the term Simulationist, but we changed it because people misunderstood when we called it Simulationist."

That won't help. At this point we would refer them to the definition. And at that point what does it matter which term we use?


I'm going to disagree with you on this for the following reason.  You are correct, some of the people who've grown used to refering to it as Simulation will be a little confused by the term change.  However, most of those people who are tuned into the model discussions would be easily made aware of it.

There are FAR more gamers who've never heard of the model than there are who have.  If we hope for this model to have a more widespread impact than a handful of philosophers hanging around a couple of internet sites that needs to be taken into account.

Which is more disruptive to widespread acceptance of the model...1) the few people who now know the term as Simulationist coming to grips with a new term.  or 2) EVERY single time we introduce a new "convert" we have to go through the same rigamorole of explaining what Simulation means to us, because it means something different to them.

If we aren't interested in the model being any thing more than a limited tool for a special few than obviously that doesn't matter, but then I'd have to question what the point is to begin with.

At any rate I do think the term Explorative is more than a simple change in lexicon.  It isn't a radical throw everything else out the window change, no.  But take a moment to look at what Jester's posted on GO about it.  I'm not sure how to put it in a pro or con list until you've seen it yourself.  What I do know is that I struggle to see how some games get called Simulations when they clearly don't seem to be simulating anything, while other games that seem to be simulating something get called something else.  I don't have that struggle with GEN.  It is much more obvious what the categories are and what their criteria is.


Title: Fengshui: Simulationist?
Post by: Mike Holmes on May 25, 2001, 01:19:00 PM
That may be the best argument I've seen yet: making the change as practical advertising. Explorative is sexier than Simulationist.

I'd buy that but I don't think Ron will. And it should go through the branding commitee a couple of more times to tweak it a little before we hit the street. But otherwise...

Hey, Ron, what was I supposed to be objecting to here?

Mike Holmes