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Archive => GNS Model Discussion => Topic started by: Silmenume on February 17, 2004, 03:42:39 AM



Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Silmenume on February 17, 2004, 03:42:39 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
What I guess I don't understand is why you consider zilchplay to have been lumped with Simulationist play. Given your definition (and especially your clarification to Emily above), it seems very straightforward to me that:

a) zilchplay is not play, but at most a sort of Social-Contract-only presence among the other people; and

b) thus not involved with Creative Agenda at all; and

c) hence not Simulationist specifically.

Is there some particular post or thread that you're working from, in terms of the conceptual problem that you're correcting? I mean, I agree with the correction-concept, but I guess I don't see it as correcting anything - just stating something .... well, if not obvious, at least not controversial.

Best,
Ron


The threads ... simulationism is less common than I thought. (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9561/), The roots of Sim II (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9642/), Beeg Horseshoe (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9737/) on the first page of the GNS forum alone all contain issues, explicit and implicit, with the heretofore unlabeled and unrecognized zilchplay and its confusion and conflation with Simulationism.

In the Beeg Horseshoe (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9737/) theory Sim is more or less described in the negative – if it ain’t Gamism and if it ain’t Narrativism it gots to be Simulationism.  Basically Sim is any moment of play that isn’t G/N.

Also brought up in the Beeg Horseshoe (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9737/) theory, and more concretely in The roots of Sim II (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9642/) is the idea that Gamism and Narrativism instances pop up out of foundational Sim play creating Gamist and Narrativist games from the Simulationist primordial soup by which it is thus equated to Exploration.

In the latest definition of Exploration in the Narrativism: Story Now (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/narr_essay.html/) essay, Exploration is described as a process because we are sharing/communicating imaginings between individuals.  Axiomatically people are involved, but foundational is the idea that the people are imagining things and that they are communicating said imaginings.  However, what we are imagining is also included in this definition and these items are referred to as the five elements of Exploration.  I’ll come back to this later.

While the distinction between zilchplay and Simulationism may be implicit in the model (the stated caveat that it is extremely difficult if not impossible to determine the CA of a single instance of play – such an instance would be now be diagnosed a zilchplay moment/quantum/atom/instance), it certainly is not explicit and I would squarely place the problem at the definition and usage of the term “Exploration.”

As the definition currently stands in the model, I would equate Exploration to the process of introducing facts into the Shared Imagined Space via the Lumpley Principle.  Not just any facts may be added; these facts must all relate directly to one or more of the elements of Exploration.  This action is the heartbeat of the game.  From the point of view of the SIS these new facts are creations; out of which was not in the SIS prior, there is now.  If nothing is being added to the SIS, there is no game in progress.

What is not explicitly stated anywhere in the model is the idea that these facts, in and of themselves, must/should/ought to be, under the circumstances, new additions to the Exploration Elements.  This lack of explicitness has allowed for the decoupling of the additive action of introducing facts into the SIS from the additive action of introducing new “information/facts” to the Elements of Exploration.

Thus, by extension, nowhere is it said that Exploration is an additive process.  Exploration was deemed a communication process.  As long as one was communicating about the elements of Exploration thus adding to the SIS, but not necessarily adding to the elements of Exploration in a meaningful fashion, that was sufficient to be called roleplay.

Definition 1 – Exploration is the process of adding to the SIS (communicating) whether or not they add anything to the elements of Exploration themselves.  This definition includes what has recently been called zilchplay but was never stated or implied in any of the essays or models.

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Second, remember: Exploration is, in and of itself, not role-playing. You can replace the term with "delighted imagination" in your head, if you like. No one is having a character do anything yet. No one is telling anyone else what their character is doing or seeing yet. Think of Exploration, in isolation, as trembling on the threshold of play.
Now play. Exploration now becomes communicative. It does so only in the context of some creative agenda.
Clarifying Simulationism (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=84436#84436/)


Definition 2 – Exploration is not roleplaying rather it is the moment of imagining things before we actually communicate our imaginings – but those communications are also called Exploration – see Def. 1.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Sim supports Gamism and Narrativism. We "fall back" to it precisely because without it we'd be telling stories or playing games. In fact from another perspective, most play is Sim play because it's only at the moment of the "reveal" that we note Gamism or Narrativisim at all! While we're always exploring. I mean, if all we ever did was make purely Gamist decisions, we'd just be playing a game. If all we ever did was make Narrativist decisions, all we'd be doing is making a story.
The roots of Sim II (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=100814#100814/)


Definition 3 – Exploration and Simulationism are synonyms for the exact same thing.  This definition implies that zilchplay is lumped in with Simulationism as any moment that isn’t identified as G/N is automatically S, which by default automatically includes zilchplay moments.

Quote from: cruciel
…I don't see any functional difference between 'adding to Exploration' and 'adding to Exploration Elements'.
Zilchplay split from "Understanding: the "it" (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=102598#102598/)


Definition 4 –Exploration means adding to the SIS strictly in a manner that also adds to the Exploration Elements at the same time.  There is an implied understanding that sometimes it is possible to add to the SIS without adding to the Exploratory elements i.e., zilchplay.

or

Definition 5 - Exploration means adding to the Exploration Elements only and thus the process of adding to the SIS is something different.  This stands in contrast to Definition 1.  If Exploration is only adding to the elements of Exploration then what is the process of adding to the SIS, the process of communicating the imaginings, to be referred to as?

Note – the posters cited above may no longer hold these positions, but I felt it important to cite the sources so that people can go back to the threads and read more as well as document the actual variety of thoughts.

I don’t know if this process has been exhaustive, but it should be clear that the definition and usage of Exploration has been confusing and has led, in one fashion or another, to the lumping of zilchplay in with Simulationism.

The first important outcome of identifying and labeling zilchplay has been the freeing of Simulationism of its effects.  As zilchplay can only be identified in the absence of CA, prior to this disentanglement Simulationism could not be solidly identified as a positive agenda and still account for the “null” moments.  Having culled zilchplay out, Simulationism can now be identified by its additive/positive description – the meaningful addition to the narrative elements (Exploration less formalized system) in the service of creating and maintaining the Dream!  Process and goal!! The more we Sim the more of the Dream we get!  That we have a definitional/positive description of Sim we can now put to rest the Beeg Horseshoe theory as Sim is no longer at the bottom of the shoe in some directionless limbo land halfway between Nar/Gam.  Sim as Exploration is no longer at the service of the two creative agendas, but stands alone with its priorities and strictures.  For example Sim cannot support Nar because Sim does not allow for the dynamic addressing of system that Nar can allow.  Also, with the identification of zilchplay there is no longer an onus to push such unidentifiable moments into a CA thus muddying the definition of said CA.  This makes defining a CA much easier as well as helping to define just what roleplay is.

So where does this leave us?  We need to define more clearly what Exploration is and if need be define a few more terms to pick up the some of slack that a more tightly defined Exploration would necessarily leave behind.

  • Is Exploration a process, the act of communicating imaginings employing the elements of Exploration i.e., adding to the SIS?
  • If Exploration describes a process, does it include the creation of zilchplay moments?
  • If Exploration is a process that does include zilchplay, then what do we call the process in which addition to the elements of Exploration must be present in order to demonstrate Creative Agenda?
  • Conversely if Exploration excludes zilchplay then what do we call that communication process that employs all the elements of Exploration but adds nothing to them?  Is that process still considered roleplay as the model only says that we must have the elements of exploration present and in employ, not that we have to add to them?
  • Is Exploration a thing and not a process – the elements of Exploration held in our imaginations but not yet communicated?[/list:u]

    While this may seem much ado about nothing, the identification of zilchplay has made it possible to liberate Sim, but it also brought to light a number of holes or at least problems and contradictions in the model or the vocabulary used in the model.

    I hope this helps.  Wow, another long post.  What a surprise….

    Aure Entaluva,

    Silmenume


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 17, 2004, 06:29:44 AM
Hi Jay,

I see. I think this whole debate suffers slightly from a tendency to interpret any single proposed idea during a complex dialogue as a concrete position. I've noted this tendency on the parts of a lot of people who arrive at the Forge from a scholarly background - accustomed to reading texts as representatives of identified points of view, they aren't used to dealing with texts as "thickets of debate" in which everyone understands that the point of view is expected to emerge eventually.

At present, I'm pretty sure that Exploration is widely understood as a process, not a thing. It occurs along lines of actual communication among real people. You do not "have" Exploration in your head; you do not even "do" Exploration in your head, at least not in isolation. Someone has to be communicating to someone else.

Exploration = Shared Imagination = Shared Imaginary Space. If it seems odd that I'm calling a "space" a "process," I suggest that it's really not that hard or difficult a concept, and perhaps adding "Establishing" will help.

Now, I'm on record many times as (a) questioning whether Simulationist play is really doing anything with Exploration or constitutes a "void" kind of play; but also as (b) concluding time and time again that the answer is Yes, it is. That's why my "GNS and related matters" essay includes it as a mode (Creative Agenda, although I wasn't using that term yet) at all. And that's why there's a whole Simulationism essay.

I've often been puzzled by people's need to give names to what I consider a very simple idea: Exploration plus Simulationist priority (integrity of in-game causality). All done. Names like "Discovery" or "Emulation," although descriptively sound, seem to me to keep hopping back and forth between these two already-named components of this simple idea.

So, what about zilchplay? Is it Simulationist? No. It's not role-playing. It opens up great potential for discussions of Social Contract, and it's a neat name for an observable phenomenon (apparently), but let's get it straight once and for all that Simulationism can happily proceed without getting labeled "zilch."

Yes, I and others raised this question in the first place. I'm pretty much done with that debate. Simulationist play does do a Thing.

Which means we can proceed as well without running back to the issue and (apparently very emotionally) getting all wrapped up with protecting Simulationist play from the nasty G and N bullies who keep insulting it on the playground.

Best,
Ron


Title: Exploration is more complicated than it seems
Post by: Silmenume on February 18, 2004, 01:44:49 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
I've often been puzzled by people's need to give names to what I consider a very simple idea: Exploration plus Simulationist priority (integrity of in-game causality). All done.


Its funny you should say that.  Exploration isn’t really such a very simple idea when you consider everything that is involved.  We start of with Exploration as a kind of communication.  We take it for granted that communication is as easy as… well as easy as talking!  Yet one of the primary driving forces behind the whole model was based on the idea that people weren’t communicating effectively.  The Lumpley Principle, which presents a terrible stumbling block for so many people, my self included, is nothing more than a communications governing device and it too sits at the heart of Exploration.  Then there is the whole are of nonverbal communications.  Finally we come back to that Exploration as a kind of communication.  What kind is it?  One that limited to certain topics, the Exploration elements, one that has certain goals, Creative Agendas, and one that is governed in certain ways, the LP.  The Exploration Elements are universally known, Creative Agenda might be known out side this site on an intuitive level and on this site there is still much work being done, and the LP, which even here is frequently unknown.  Complex stuff going in this Exploration process!  I wouldn’t be so quick to write it off as something easily understood.  Hell, we only just positively proved that Sim is not Exploration and that only came about with the discovery of the idea of zilchplay.

I did not intend to imply that you held the point of view that Simulationism constitutes a “void” kind of play.  I only quoted and cited the various posters to indicate that the “thickets of debate” were still raging and that said debate was being held by some of the most well versed posters at the Forge.  I also wanted to indicate the debate raged on three completely intertwined basic areas – Simulationism directly, the nature of Exploration indirectly, and zilchplay which presence was felt like dark matter but was not understood until very recently.

That Sim does do a Thing is, I think, solidly beyond debate.  But how Exploration works is an issue.  The Nature of Simulationism,  I can see, is also an issue.

Exploration plus Simulationist priority (integrity of in-game causality)

Seems like a very straightforward statement, but it fraught with all sorts of ambiguities.

We’ve established that Exploration is a process, but what actions constitute that process?  We know that it involves communicating about shared imaginings.  We know these imaginings are limited to the elements of Exploration.  The question I have is, is it enough to merely talk about the imaginings (the elements of Exploration) to qualify as Exploration or must we be adding to the elements of Exploration to qualify as Exploration?  I am firmly in the camp that Exploration must connote and denote additive actions.  Exploration is the action of roleplay and roleplay is additive.  But apparently that is still up for debate.

Why is this important?  Because merely talking about the imaginings without mindfully adding to them is zilchplay.  Why is this distinction important?  Because phrases like “Exploration of Character” get tossed around all the time.  Zilchplay Exploration of Character is merely talking about Character without adding anything to our understanding/knowledge/information of said Character.  Is this relevant?  I just saw the phrase Exploration of System that was clearly meant to mean mere employment of system without adding to it, but it was thought to be a form of roleplay.  If roleplay is an additive process, which I believe it is, then that particular usage of the phrase “Exploration of System” contained a logical error that is clearly demonstrates confusion about what the process of Exploration is.

By the phrase Simulationist priority I will assume you are referring to the Simulationist Creative Agenda.  If that is the case then parenthetical is confusing.  If that parenthetical is meant to denote that the Simulationist Creative Agenda is “integrity of in-game causality” then that is incorrect.  If the parenthetical was meant as it was indicated, then all is well except for the apparent implied meaning that integrity of in-game causality is the Creative Agenda if Sim.  The goal of Sim is the Enlargement of the Dream in an aesthetically satisfying manner.  How is this accomplished?  What is the process?  By mindfully adding to the narrative elements with the aid of a static system in such a way as to support the Dream.  As was indicated in an earlier thread, integrity of in-game causality must be present in all Creative Agendas, its just that Sim says that you shouldn’t violate it all.

To make the above work would be more of something like –

Exploration shaped by the Simulationist priority (mindfully adding to the narrative elements while maintaining the integrity of in-game causality).

This means not only are we communicating about the elements of Exploration, but that we are purposefully, as the goal, adding to narrative elements of Exploration.

Again, I believe the ambiguity and the construction of the earlier phrase stemmed from an ambiguous understanding of Exploration.  This is why I wanted to clarify the usage of Exploration.  I believe in the long run that much confusion can be avoided once this is cleared up.
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Simulationist play does do a Thing.

Which means we can proceed as well without running back to the issue and (apparently very emotionally) getting all wrapped up with protecting Simulationist play from the nasty G and N bullies who keep insulting it on the playground.

Yeah!  Those G and N bullies had better watch out!  Simulationism is in the house an’ is gonna come an’ getcha!

Aure Entaluva,

Silmenume


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Walt Freitag on February 18, 2004, 09:40:58 AM
Quote from: Jay
The question I have is, is it enough to merely talk about the imaginings (the elements of Exploration) to qualify as Exploration or must we be adding to the elements of Exploration to qualify as Exploration? I am firmly in the camp that Exploration must connote and denote additive actions. Exploration is the action of roleplay and roleplay is additive. But apparently that is still up for debate.


That's the issue. The proposition is, a meaningful distinction can be made between two modes of Exploration. Let's call them X Exploration and non-X Exploration. So the question is, is that true?

A secondary question is, is "additive" and "non-additive" a clear and useful term for "X" and "non-X"?

If the answer is no, then zilchplay as I defined it (role playing with non-X Exploration but lacking X Exploration) cannot exist because no exploration is non-X. The examples of zilchplay as a real-world behavior I've offered must be either role playing whose Exploration might not appear X but actually is (because all Exploration is), or play that lacks all Exploration and hence is not role playing at all. (I don't think anyone's questioning that the behavior does exist, and we can go ahead and call it zilchplay, but it cannot be zilchplay as actually defined as "role playing... lacking X (some quality) of Exploration".)

If the answer is yes, then zilchplay as I defined it can (and almost certainly does) exist. Then the question shifts to my second key proposition, that zilchplay expresses no Creative Agenda. I think that one's a slam dunk, given the first proposition -- but the first proposition is the sticking point.

I'm willing to accept a yes or no answer based on logical principles and/or evidence. (The only answer I'm not willing to accept is "yes, there's a distinction, but it's complex and hard to perceive, so we'll pretend it doesn't exist." But I don't believe anyone so far has taken that position.) However, there's little use talking about all the implications of a "yes" answer, its importance and its import, the effects (good or othewise) it might have on our understanding of this or that, ambiguities resolved or clarity gained. All that is meaningless if it just ain't so.

So -- let's look at your particular stating of X. What does "additive" or "non-additive" Exploration actually mean?

We're talking about the shared imagined space here; that's the imagining that's important in role playing and it's the only thing that's meaningful to be adding to. So, right off the bat, information that's not shared (such as a GM's not-yet-revealed secrets), that is to say not explicitly communicated to the group, doesn't count. So, any narration of a fact that wasn't previously narrated is additive. (Under narration, include any substitute form of relating concrete information, such as showing an illustration.)

Or is it? Does the shared imagined space of a game taking place in a Western setting in an 1850 California boomtown really not include swinging doors on the saloon until someone says out loud that it does? I think those swinging doors are in the shared imagined space by default, and the fact that we know that they are is likely to be one reason we're setting the game in a Western town instead of a zatzat factory on the planet Xxplpgh. There's a body of shared assumptions about the shared imagined space that is part of the shared imagined space without having been explicitly communicated. (Others have called this the "baseline," in contrast to "vision" which is the explicitly communicated information that modifies or adds to the common assumptions.) So, "the saloon has swinging doors" is not additive under the described circumstances. Simple.

Now let's suppose that the GM narrates, in the same Western game, that the saloon has stained glass windows because it used to be a church. That's not something anyone would lilkely assume about the setting, so it's additive. Or is it? Suppose it was in the GM's notes the whole time. He's not making up anything new at runtime. Does that make it non-additive?

No, because being in the GM's notes doesn't make it part of the shared imagined space. Narrating it adds it to the shared imagined space. Simple.

What's not simple? Where's the gray area? It's when the narration is pinning down specifics from a set of shared assumptions about the range of possibilities. We know the saloon keeper in our Western town is going to be either a grizzled guy with a short temper and a shotgun hidden under the bar, a jolly genial guy who tries to stay out of trouble and worries about his pride and joy behind-the-bar mirror, or a brassy former hooker with a heart of gold. Is it additive when the GM tells the players that it's the jolly guy, and what his name is? We can't be certain that a band of outlaws is going to ride into town, but we know it's one possibility among others. Is it additive when the GM tells the players that a band of outlaws is riding into town? We can't assume that there will be one of those horse-watering troughs that are just the right size for a man to fall lengthwise into, or hide in under the water, and if there is one we don't know where it will be located. It is additive when the GM tells the players that there's one on the east side of the street, in front of the blacksmith's?

Similar for typical routine player-character actions. If we know from experience that Knuckles the Thief will always try to waste an enemy with his crossbow, then it's pretty clear that Knuckles the Thief trying to waste an enemy with his crossbow in any particular instance is not additive. But if Obidiah the Ranger sometimes hangs back and fires arrows, and other times charges with his sword, mixing it up deliberately so that his tactics don't become too predictable, is it additive when he does a particular one in a particular instance? Is it additive when a wizard chooses which new spell to learn, when given a choice of 40 or 50 on a list?

There's also the action of randomizers to consider. When a fortune resolution results in a character being seriously injured in mid-combat, is that additive? (Remember that situation is one of the Elements; the combat result has altered the situation from fighting-whatever to fighting-whatever-while-seriously-injured.) Suppose the player of the Ranger in the previous example flips a coin to decide whether to fire or charge, to make sure his tactics are truly unpredictable?

I think it would be an uphill battle to convince people that these events are "non-additive" to the Shared Imagined Space. At the same time, I think that most of the examples are consistent with zilchplay as I've conceived it. (The clearest exception is the Ranger's tactics choice, when not made randomly, which is recognizably Gamist -- partly because I included an interpetation of the action's meaning -- "so that his tactics don't become too predictable" -- in the example. Also, I say "consistent with" because none is conclusive of zilchplay in and of itself.) So, I conclude that "additive" and "non-additive" fails as a term for the hypothetical X vs. non-X distinction. By "additive" you apparently want to mean not that things are being added to the shared imagined space, as the term implies, but that what's being added to the shared imagined space is interesting or creative or (as I tried to put it before) unexpected. Or, as you put it yourself, is added purposefully.

I think that last possibility, purposefully, is the key one -- and at the same time, indicates why this might never fly within the strictly behaviorist Big Model. Let me propose another adverb I like even better, one I've used before: meaningfully. The ranger choosing between sword and bow is an action with a Gamist meaning. The saloon with the stained glass windows likely has, depending on its context, a Simulationist meaning: building a certain mood, adding an aesthetic touch, piquing curiosity. The other examples have no meaning that we can perceive on this scale; they may or may not have meaning within the overall context provided by the instances of play in which they occur. (The selection of a spell from the list certainly could have a Gamist meaning, for example.) They're consistent with the possiblity of zilchplay. But meaning or its absence can only be interpreted in its overall context over a sufficiently long period of paying attention.

Much like... Creative Agenda. So much like, in fact, that I conclude that our enigmatic X is exactly equivalent to Creative Agenda itself.

(The second proposition, that non-X play expresses no Creative Agenda, becomes a tautology.)

So:

Zilchplay is Exploration without perceivable Creative Agenda.

Zilchplay IS Exploration.

Exploration without perceivable Creative Agenda is possible (and observable, most often on the part of individual participants rather than a whole group).

Zilchplay is or is not role playing depending on whether your definition of role playing has CA as a requirement.

How's that?

- Walt


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Valamir on February 18, 2004, 10:26:43 AM
This is sounding strangely like the Type 1, Type 2 Simulationism discussions from a way back Walt...


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Mike Holmes on February 18, 2004, 11:37:52 AM
Quote
Zilchplay is Exploration without perceivable Creative Agenda.

Zilchplay IS Exploration.
This is illogical. By the transitive property, I could then say, "Exploration is Exploration without percievable Creative Agenda." Which you do not mean to imply, right?

What you mean by the second clause is that Zilchplay is a subset of exploration. Right? This has some interesting ramifications on the rest of the argument.

Mike


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Walt Freitag on February 18, 2004, 12:40:51 PM
Quote
What you mean by the second clause is that Zilchplay is a subset of exploration. Right? This has some interesting ramifications on the rest of the argument.


Yes, that's right. "Is" as in "is a form of," not as in "is equivalent to." (I guess sometimes it does all depend on what your definition of "is" is!)

Quote
This is sounding strangely like the Type 1, Type 2 Simulationism discussions from a way back Walt...


Why "strangely?" It's a whole lot like those discussions, quite on purpose and, I thought, overtly. The difference is that I've taken to heart the counterargument made at the time that the difference between "creative and noncreative" Exploration (as I called it then) is not unique to Simulationism (so it's not really about "splitting" Sim, let alone "protecting" it).

Ulterior motive? Sure, I've got one. What I'm really digging up from the past is the cranky old idea of a "transactional model" of role playing. I'm working toward a model in which Creative Agenda is described as a meaning (which is subject to interpretation) of self-expression through play, rather than as an overt property of play behavior. This should shed some light on at least one class of answers to some of the Hard Questions; more generally, what exactly as a role playing participant might I be expecting to give to and receive from the other participants? And how do these differ in role playing games from other available activities? I've been prodding GNS on styles of play in which Agenda is less focused or apparent (Zilchplay, Sim1, congruence, solo games, vanilla/El Dorado, etc. -- this goes back a long way, obviously) to determine whether such a model must be distinct from Big Model/Agenda/GNS or is an "interpretation" of it (the way Copenhagen, many-worlds, and pilot-wave theory are all "interpretations" of Quantum Mechanics, ways of explaining how the theory or the phenomena it describes "works" without altering its predictions in any way).

- Walt


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Jason Lee on February 18, 2004, 12:56:47 PM
Wow.  Good stuff, but also lots to quibble over.  As I've neither time nor inclination to quibble I'll just state my stance.

My take on Exploration is that it is a process, but not so strictly defined as to only occur as part of the conversation.

Exploration that has been Integrated is part of the SIS, but there is still Exploration occurring in the head of the players without being part of the SIS.

I'm going to detour for a second, but I think it's for a good reason.

*****

Let me see if I can sum up my opinion on the process of IIEE (IEE) and the Lumpley Principle real quick.

EDIT:  So that we might not wander so much, I moved this section to its own thread:  Jason's Unified Theory of Exploration (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?p=103298)

*****

Anyway, back to the point.  I consider the Conception phase to still be part of the Exploration process.  Meaning, the stuff in the players head is part of Exploration.

Long walk to Pathology - gotta go.


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: M. J. Young on February 18, 2004, 10:55:42 PM
I was going to write a meandering sort of dialogue in which a group of guys are setting up a Monopoly game--picking what pieces they wanted to play, agreeing on house rules, looking up the amount of money to deal out, stuff like that.

Well, that's enough of it for you to get the idea.

The fact is, if you set up a Monopoly game but you never play, then the setup wasn't playing a game of Monopoly. On the other hand, if you actually do start playing the game, then all that time you were setting up is part of the game, part of play. Even if you quit before you had a clear winner, you would say "we played Monopoly last night" as long as you rolled dice, moved around, bought some property, and paid some rents. If you didn't do all of that, you would say, "we were going to play Monopoly last night, but it fizzled before we got started."

Now, let's take this to role playing.

We often debate whether preparation is part of play or not. The answer, from the Monopoly example, would seem to be that creating a character that you use in a game is part of play, but creating a character that you never use is not playing. How many of us have had people show up and create a character, but then never play the game? We don't say that those people played with us--we say they were going to play, but they didn't, right? Got as far as creating a character, but never started playing. If they did start playing, that aspect of playing feeds back into the prep time, as that was part of play once play is established.

I'm going to push it a bit further.

We certainly agree (I think) that if a creative agendum is established, be it gamist, narrativist, or simulationist, a seemingly meaningless action like crossing the street actually does contribute to that agendum because it is part of the totality of the play experience. The only question is whether such meaningless actions can be their own agendum if one of these three are not established.

What is the creative agendum, and how does it relate to exploration? It is the answer, the explanation of the exploration. We usually say it's why you are exploring; but it is just as true that creative agendum is what you are exploring.

Which means if you don't have a creative agendum, you are not exploring something.

So then are you exploring nothing?

That's the sort of nonsense with which Lewis Carroll would have had great fun. It's complete nonsense. You can't explore nothing. Exploration, as a verb, always has an object: you must explore something, or you are not exploring.

If you are not exploring, you are not role playing.

Thus if you do not have a creative agendum that says what you are exploring, then you have never actually started playing. You're still preparing to play. The game doesn't begin until someone says, within himself, Let's explore this--and at that moment, you have a creative agendum, and the game begins, and everything that led to that moment becomes roleplaying, down defined because we know what we are exploring.

As far as I'm concerned, Zilchplay is dead. It doesn't exist. It either is exploration, in which case it has object and thus an agendum, or it is not exploration, in which case it is not roleplaying.

--M. J. Young


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Ron Edwards on February 19, 2004, 06:27:40 AM
Hello,

I'm starting to shape up with M.J. on this one.

Best,
Ron


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Walt Freitag on February 19, 2004, 07:05:29 AM
Quote from: M. J. Young
We certainly agree (I think) that if a creative agendum is established, be it gamist, narrativist, or simulationist, a seemingly meaningless action like crossing the street actually does contribute to that agendum because it is part of the totality of the play experience. The only question is whether such meaningless actions can be their own agendum if one of these three are not established.


Very nicely stated. I do agree with that, with the proviso that "seemingly meaningless" means "seemingly meaningless unless we know the entire context in which it occurs at the moment it occurs." I'd be a little more reluctant to accept that a "seemingly meaningless until we look at it in retrospect at some future time" action can be said to be meaningful.

Quote
What is the creative agendum, and how does it relate to exploration? It is the answer, the explanation of the exploration. We usually say it's why you are exploring; but it is just as true that creative agendum is what you are exploring.


This line of argument looks flawed to me. If creative agenda* are** what you are exploring, then what are character, setting, situation, system, and color?

What you've done is introduced a whole different meaning of "exploring." Sure, you can say, with some justification, that Gamist play is exploring Step On Up, and Narrativist play is exploring Premise or exploring Story Now. (And Sim play would be exploring Exploration.) But that's using "exploring" in its conventional English sense of examining, investigating, conversing-about something. That's not what the model means by Exploration, which is all about shared imagining of the listed Elements. (Step On Up in Gamist play, for instance, is not imagined in the hypothetical, as in "let's imagine I the player have social esteem at stake here;" it's a real thing in the real world.)

Now, if by "exploring" you mean something like "conversing about examination or investigation of," then I agree with you that what you are (in that sense) exploring is indeed the Creative Agenda. But I then propose that you can be (in the GNS sense) Exploring without exploring anything.

One can be talking without saying anything (that is, in the sense of saying anything meaningful), and one can be saying things that might be meaningful to an audience without self-expression (e.g. reciting memorized poetry because asked to do so rather than because of any desire to express the ideas in the poem). Similarly I believe that one can be participating in shared imagining without doing anything meaningful, and can participate in shared imagining and do things that other participants find meaningful but do not express one's own creative agenda. The first, I believe, is definitely zilchplay. The second is probably zilchplay too (I haven't reached a conclusion on this), because it's not self-expression through play and (I theorize) only self-expression through play results in a visible, identifiable creative agenda.

- Walt

*Agendum? Sure, the dictionary says it's the singular form. But in real current English usage it ain't so. I've never heard any English speaker or writer say e.g. "He came to the meeting with some agenda," or "Our agenda for this project are summarized on page three."

**See what I mean?


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: Walt Freitag on February 19, 2004, 07:31:02 AM
Hi Ron,

M. J.'s conclusion might be right, but that line of argument doesn't get you there. Creative Agenda in the current model is emphatically not "what you are Exploring," as the model describes Exploring.

And, I should add, I don't really see the relevance of the preparation for play issue. I've never tried to argue (or even thought about) whether preparation for play in general, or any specific example of it, is or is not zilchplay. I took it as an example supporting a proposition that participant actions that appear meaningless when they occur can later, in retrospect, acquire meaning with regard to a creative agenda. I'm reluctant to put any stock in that. (Premise or story perceived only in retrospect still doesn't float your boat Narrativism-wise, right?) But even accepting that as a possibility, it doesn't rule out the existence of zilchplay unless it could be further argued that all player actions that appear meaningless when they occur must always inevitably acquire retrospective meaning that way. That seems far-fetched.

- Walt


Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
Post by: clehrich on February 19, 2004, 10:05:20 AM
Several current threads seem to be tying together in one place.  There’s Jason’s Unified Theory (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9866), plus all of the various parents about Sim and zplay.  I think Walt’s right to focus on the communicative or transactional process of Exploration, and I think Jason sets up a nice model to examine that.  Let me go briefly on a tangent, then come back to Sim, Exploration, and Zplay.

Jason proposed a structure like this:
  • Conception: Idea in player’s head
  • Proposal: Formulation of idea externally (in language, etc.)
  • Validation: Testing of legitimacy of Proposal (including negative Validation)
  • Integration: Validated Proposal becomes part of shared space, usually through description of immediate entailments[/list:u]It strikes me that this is interestingly similar to some classic semiotic models, i.e. models for how signs and language manage to communicate meaning.  I’m not going to go on a long rant about semiotics here — that would be a very different thread! — but I do want to note that we could align Jason’s model to a semiotic one in these terms:
      Conception is idea or concept
      Proposal is Sign, the actual unit of communication
      Validation is Interpretation by what’s sometimes called an Interpretant, which just means the person who has to do the interpreting
      Integration constructs an imagined Referent, a thing to which the Sign refers[/list:u]But why do I bring any of this up, you ask?  Well, three reasons.  

      First, the classic, never-answered question in semiotics is how you get from Sign to Referent.  If by Referent you mean an actual physical thing, the answer is you don’t.  But here, you actually do, because all Referents are part of an imagined space, not a physical one.  Thus things (referents) are actually constructed through signification (Proposals, language, signs, etc.).

      Second, because of this first problem, the sticking-point in these sorts of models is commonly that between Jason’s Proposal and his Integration, which is to say it’s when the GM (or whoever) has to Validate the Proposal, or Interpret the Sign.  This is in fact what we’ll find is the central issue in Exploration.

      Third, as Jason noted, this system is circular.  Integration changes the shared space, and thus the range of possible Concepts alters on the basis of what gets Validated and Integrated.

      The only important points I’d change or clarify in Jason’s model for this purpose are:
      – this isn’t always about player and GM; really, it’s any two players, or any player and any other with the power to Validate a Proposal
      – a Proposal need not be spoken, as it can include things like rolling dice.  It’s really anything that amounts to a sign that requires interpretation by another player.  Umberto Eco has said that a sign is anything that can be used to lie; in this context, we could say that a Proposal is anything that can turn out to be false, i.e. negatively Validated.

      ****

      Now in reference to the big discussion of exploration here, I think this is a very useful way to make sense of what’s going on.

      Additive: Walt’s very nicely described how the swinging doors on a Western bar are not additive, but the stained-glass windows are.  Okay, so this takes us to the Conception level.  If the Conception is one that already is or can be presumed to be a part of the Integrated shared space, the Proposal based on it is non-additive.  To take an extreme example, the swordsman’s player thinks, “I have a sword.”  If he makes this into a Proposal — “I have a sword” — this requires no Validation at all, because there’s nothing to Integrate.

      Conclusions from this:
      – Validation is only necessary if the Proposal requires Integration
      – The need for Validation defines additive-ness
      By the lumpley Principle, this is in fact what System is: how one Validates Proposals, and also how one determines whether a Proposal requires Validation

      In Zplay, player Proposals do not require Validation or Integration.  Traditionally, GM Proposals require Integration, but Validation is automatic, inherent in the office as it were.

      ****

      Exploration is therefore a testing of the validity of one’s own Integration, by examining whether Concepts arising from it are Validated.  For example, the Western saloon has been described or referred to, Integrated into the shared space.  A player now tests whether her own Integrated vision is the same as everyone else’s, in other words whether her imagined space is indeed the shared one.  
      – Her Concept is, “If this is a Western saloon, there’s probably a swinging door.”  
      – Her Proposal: “I push through the swinging doors and march in.”  
      Now Validation occurs.  If this is passed over, i.e. the person with Validation power sees this as not requiring specific Validation, then the statement was non-additive, and Integration has not occurred.  From this player’s perspective, Exploration may have occurred, depending on how certain she was about her Concept in the first place, but that’s probably an unnecessary distinction; at base, Exploration has not generally occurred here (but see below).

      Now consider a very rules-heavy system, one which tries to detail everything and which shifts as much Validation as possible to mechanical means.  The player makes the same Concept and Proposal, and then the GM says, “Hmm, says here that there’s a 95% chance that there’s a swinging door <roll, roll> Okay, there is indeed a swinging door.  You go through it.”  Now Exploration has occurred, because it was necessary to test the Concept.

      This takes us also back to the sorts of statements we find in a lot of recent systems, especially indie systems, that some range of routine or easy actions requires no mechanics.  In other words, these are removed from the extent of Exploration.

      Interestingly, this goes some way toward explaining why Simulationist games classically were very rules-heavy.  The more explicit and detailed the rules, the more Exploration is required at all times.  It may not emphasize the Exploration that players are most interested in, but very little is removed from the Exploration sphere of play.  Since Simulationism emphasizes Exploration over all else, an easy way to support this CA is to provide a rules-system that makes Validation a constant, explicit procedure.

      ****

      Exploration of Finite Options: Walt also proposed that the bartender in our saloon will probably be one of three types (simplifying somewhat).  The player now faces a problem of shared space.  Her Integrated space may involve the ex-hooker with the heart of gold, but the GM’s may involve the jolly fat guy.  Walt suggested that simply defining which one is behind the bar is non-additive, in that it doesn’t add to the Baseline sense of the Western saloon.  True, but it is still Exploration: the player tests through Concept (the bartender is the ex-hooker), Proposal, and Validation.  This is why I think Baseline (the Western saloon) is different from shared space.

      In some game systems, the player may simply Propose, “I see that the bartender is one of those ex-hookers with a heart of gold,” and something in the system allows this to be Validated, contrary to what the GM had imagined.  In some systems, the Proposal should be: “Is the bartender an ex-hooker with a heart of gold?” so that the GM can, without conflict, negatively Validate the Proposal.  But this is certainly Exploration.  It is additive because it requires Validation one way or another.  It does not alter the Baseline, but it does further specify this particular shared space.

      ****

      Abduction: No, not aliens.  This is a very unfortunate term coined by C.S. Peirce, the inventor of semiotics, for a mode of interpretation that goes in the same bag as Deduction and Induction.  Basically in Abduction, you take a set of known facts, then create a story or image which, if true, would make all those known facts obvious and expected.  If you think about Sherlock Holmes, this is what he does.  His next step is Deduction: given the Abducted story, he thinks, “If that were true, what else would have to be true that I don’t already know?”  And then he goes and looks for that.  For example, in “The Adventure of Silver Blaze,” Holmes includes in his Abducted story the fact that the guard-dog did not bark; if the thief were known to the dog, this would be obvious and expected.  Suppose that his Abducted story said that the thief had drugged the dog; he would now be able to Deduce that there should be hints of such drugging, and he’d go look for them.

      In RPG’s, I suggest that the relationship between Concept and Integrated shared space is necessarily Abductive.  Given what we already know, we generate a total picture in our heads.  Next, we make the classic Deductive move: if that total picture is correct, then the following further fact should also be true.  We now put this forward as a Proposal.  For example, given that this is a Western saloon, there should be swinging doors, so I propose to walk through them.

      Now Exploration in this case of the swinging doors only comes negatively.  If we discover that there are no swinging doors, our Abducted image must be incorrect, and we revise accordingly.  If the doors are there, nothing has changed.

      So if the doors are Validated, is this Exploration or Zplay?

      I think this can only be analyzed with hindsight.  The question, really, is whether the Deduction that there should be swinging doors ultimately did or did not change the saloon.  Did it matter?  For example, did it mean that the characters inside the saloon could see someone walking by in the street?  Without clarifying the swinging doors, this might not have been obvious, and thus not even known.  In essence, if the Deduction of swinging doors led to a further Deduction — anyone passing in the street should be visible — then this was Exploration.  Otherwise it simply added expected color, and can be called Zplay.

      Note that this makes Zplay perfectly enjoyable: it adds sharpness and clarity to the picture, adds depth and richness to the experience.  But it’s not Exploration.

      In the other case, of the bartender, we have something that is definitely Exploration.  Based on successful Abduction of the saloon situation, the player Deduces that there are a limited number of possible bartenders.  But she cannot tell, without further data, which bartender this one is.  Her Proposal, and its Validation, leads to Integration: the Deduction was correct, and led to discovery of a new fact, leading to a further Deduction (who the bartender is).

      In short, Exploration is distinguished from Zplay based on whether successful Deduction leads to further Deduction.

      ****

      Preparation: By this formulation, preparation simply amounts to one player’s construction of an imaginary space which he wants to make shared.  But the only way that space becomes shared is through progressive Validations, leading to Integrations; in short, the other players must Abduce the total space.  All the preparation in the world is not play, because it doesn’t create Proposals; semiotically, there are no signs, because all signs require an interpretant to be such, and since there are no signs, no Abduction can occur.  One person creating a personal language in a closet is doing something, but it’s not communication.

      This reminds me of some old threads about No Myth gamemastering.  Fang Langford emphasized this “myth” that prepared material was already present in the game, and said that on the contrary, nothing is present in the shared space until it’s, well, shared.  The semiotic model would support that conclusion: you can Explore a pre-prepared space, just as you can Explore a totally open-ended one, and either way it requires addition because it requires successive Abductions and Deductions.


      Chris Lehrich

      Note: If you care about semiotic modeling, Jonathan Culler’s The Pursuit of Signs and Thomas Sebeok’s The Sign and Its Masters are probably the best places to start.  Umberto Eco’s Semiotics and the Philosophy of Language is also useful, but a little dense, and his A Theory of Semiotics is (uncharacteristically) nearly impenetrable.  Eco and Sebeok have edited a whole bunch of nice volumes of essays about this stuff, mostly very readable, notably The Sign of Three which includes essays on the semiotics of Sherlock Holmes, Auguste Dupin, and so forth.  Good stuff.  Those of you who already know a lot about semiotics will note that I’ve oversimplified pretty drastically the basic definitions of sign and referent, among other things passing over the whole Structuralist formulation of signifier and signified.  If I’ve gone too far with this, let me know!


    Title: Minor Change to Proposed Semiotic Model
    Post by: Silmenume on February 20, 2004, 04:33:50 AM
    Hey Chris!

    I certainly enjoyed reading your analysis and appreciate the time you must have put into it!  That type of thinkin’ only gives me cramps.

    By your conclusion I would say that then you believe that Exploration is not just a communication process, but one that must be “additive” in that a Proposal, or its effects must be integrated in some fashion.  For clarity’s sake I’ll say that said act of integration means integrating a “new” fact into the elements of Exploration that are being “held” in the shared imagined space.

    If I may, I’ll make a small adjustment to your model.

    Quote from: clehrich
    To take an extreme example, the swordsman’s player thinks, “I have a sword.” If he makes this into a Proposal — “I have a sword” — this requires no Validation at all, because there’s nothing to Integrate.


    The Lumpley Principle nonetheless requires that every communication/Proposal does go through a validation process, even if it seems unnecessary in order to enter/integrate into the SIS.  Such a statement under the circumstances you indicated would still be ratified/validated at the very least by silent consent.  Someone could have objected, and that possibility is always there, but no one found a reason to do so.

    Since the LP validates any Proposal that makes it into the SIS, I think a better distinction whether a Proposal is zilchplay or not is whether or not there are any reasonable grounds for contest.  If a Proposal cannot be reasonably contested it is because it has no perceived potential for requiring integration into the elements of Exploration.

    It seems to me that this description of the Exploration process includes two “additive” acts in order to be successful.  First, the Proposal must be validated, i.e., the Proposal successfully navigates the LP and makes it into the SIS.  Second, the Proposal must also require integration in the elements of Exploration.  If the Proposal does not require integration, if it has added nothing to the elements of Exploration, then it could be called a zilchplay moment.

    This sounds kinda goofy, but not all integration validation actions are overt.  The DM may let it go straight in through a vote of silent consent.  The key here is that he could have contested, but purposely opted not to.  A DM could not reasonably contest a zilchplay moment.

    So where does CA fit into all this?  CA can only be found by examining the Proposals, but only if the Proposals require integration.  Even then it can be difficult in examining individual Proposals to find a goal or pattern of behavior.  A moment diagnosed as zilchplay cannot determine whether a player had a Creative Agenda or not, it only says that a Creative Agenda cannot be determined from the evidence at hand.  Zilchplay most assuredly is NOT a Creative Agenda.  Whether or not play dominated by zilchplay moments reflects any sort of noncreative Agenda is up for debate.  But this does raise some questions.

    • Does roleplay require an agenda?
    I would say, yes.  If we are putting out the effort to do something we are always motivated by some sort of desire.

    • Must this agenda always be a Creative Agenda?
    I don’t know.  This is currently up for debate right now.

    • And to just make things interesting, are there only 3 Creative Agendas possible?
    This would be something for another thread, but I am kind curious why there appear to be only 3 Creative Agendas.  I think the answer lies in the fodder for the game – the narrative elements.[/list:u]
    Quibbles on the usage of Simulation made twice in this thread.

    Quote from: Walt Freitag
    (And Sim play would be exploring Exploration.)

    Quote from: clehrich
    Since Simulationism emphasizes Exploration over all else…


    Exploration is a process not a thing!  What you referred to as the objects of Exploration, Exploration, are less confusing if they are called the Elements of Exploration.  Sim prioritizes the Exploration of the 4 narrative elements of elements of the Exploration.  One cannot Explore system in Sim simply because system is fixed, you cannot integrate anything new into the system as a whole.  Remember if there’s no integration then its zilchplay.

    Aure Entaluva,

    Silmenume


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Walt Freitag on February 20, 2004, 02:10:41 PM
    Chris,

    This is interesting, a very intriguing parallel.

    However, one quibble, which then leads into a more important point: You apply the principles you're describing to demonstrate that some of my examples of likely Zplay are exploration after all. But I never claimed otherwise. Zplay is not non-exploration, it's exploration without Creative Agenda. Distinguishing Exploration from Zplay leads only to contradiction.

    This is important because examining Zplay and Creative Agenda requires a second turn of your semiotic crank, if you will. A participant has an idea or concept of a change in the Shared Imagined Space. The player expresses that idea (Sign) through or during play. It's validated (Interpreted by means of system) and if valid, it gets integrated into the Shared Imagined Space, which is the Referent. Now, take that change in the Shared Imagined Space as being itself Sign. The Referent of that Sign is the present instantiation of the Creative Agenda: the Premise in Narrativism, the fitness being demonstrated in Gamism, the aesthetics of the imagined space in Simulationism. The Creative Agenda itself (assuming coherent play) is the mode of Interpetation of the Sign. If the change in the Shared Imagined Space is not Sign, then it's Zplay.

    Jay,

    You've taken my statement about "exploring Exploration" completely out of context. I was attempting to refute, not propose, the idea that Creative Agenda is "something Explored."

    I've questioned the idea of Exploration of System before. But you must take into account that System as an Element of Exploration doesn't only refer to the (usually fixed) procedures involved; it refers to the action of System during play to produce time and change in the Shared Imagined Space. In this sense System can hardly avoid being "additive."

    I agree with the general idea that turning the crank on mechanical elements of the System to see what comes out is a hallmark of Zplay. But it's not System's "fixed-ness" or inability to add to the Elements in the Shared Imagined Space that makes it so. (Consider what a simple wandering monster check roll and table do.) I think this is another area where the "additive vs. non-additive" test fails.

    - Walt


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Jason Lee on February 20, 2004, 02:24:36 PM
    I was going to quote and reply piecemeal, but I figured this might be better.

    *****

    On Integration

    There two things I can think of that would prevent a Proposal from being Integrated.

    1)  Rejection of the Proposal in totality.  If some element of the Proposal passes its own Validation (remember you can keep drilling down to get smaller CPVI phases), then that element is Integrated.  Though the action of hitting with the sword may fail Validation, and hence not be Integrated; sub-phases of the action, such as swinging the sword, did pass Validation and were Integrated.

    Example of total rejection:
    Player, "Poisonous monkeys fly from my butt and bite Evil Mage Guy until he's dead, dead and deader."
    Everybody Else, "Umm... No."


    2)  Failure to communicate the Proposal.  This is pretty straight forward.  If an element of a Proposal is not understood, it cannot be Validated and therefore cannot be Integrated.

    Example of communication failure:
    Player, "I get my gimple up on dah fizzle, 'cause I'm the shiz-nittly-iz-nit!"
    Everybody Else, "What?  No!"


    *****

    Jay,

    I don't think Chris is saying anything different than what I've said in the above section, he just appears to be working on a different scale than you're think of.

    Let me know guys.

    *****

    On Validation

    I consider Validation by silent consent to be low Points of Contact, but still Exploration.  In my opinion, the specific mechanism for Validation doesn't relate to whether or not a Proposal is Integrated - all that matters is that it was Validated.

    The non-additive, silent consent we see in zilchplay I believe has more to do with whether the process is Inductive or Deductive.  Bear with me, I'm still grappling with Induction/Abductive (let me if I’ve got ‘em switched around).

    If the process is solely Deductive (A leads to B, leads to C, leads to D), than nothing unexpected is being Proposed (to refer back to Walt's expected/unexpected distinction).  When the Proposals are expected we often see silent consent Validation.  

    However, when the unexpected is Proposed we might often see thoughtful/mechanical Validation.  We can't measure the difference between silent consent that is not thoughtful, and silent consent that is (someone uses some criteria other than 'I don't see why not' to Validate).  That aside, an unexpected Proposal that is Integrated changes the landscape - it adds data to the SIS that can alter the Deductive process beyond A -> B -> C -> D.  If I've got my terms right, then unexpected Proposals can be considered Inductive, because new elements are being adding which may be used for further Deduction, Induction or Abduction.

    So, I would alter the following statement:

    Quote from: Chris
    In short, Exploration is distinguished from Zplay based on whether successful Deduction leads to further Deduction.


    to say:

    'Creative Agenda is distinguished from Zplay based on whether successful Induction leads to further Deduction, Induction, or Abduction.'


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: M. J. Young on February 20, 2004, 08:14:37 PM
    Quote from: Walt Freitag
    Creative Agenda in the current model is emphatically not "what you are Exploring," as the model describes Exploring.

    I've mulled over my point that CA is what you are exploring in light of the obviously correct statement that you are exploring the five elements.

    Of course, what creative agenda tell us is why you are exploring these elements; that in turn tells us what you find relevant and interesting about them; and that in turn tells us what aspects of each element you are exploring.

    There's a thread going on exploration of character at the moment. If you are exploring character from a gamist perspective, you are exploring how the strengths and weaknesses of the character combine to limit his ability and enable him to face the challenges raised in play. If you are exploring character from a narrativist perspective, you are exploring how the character's moral/ethical principles conflict with his desires and objectives, and which will give way to what. If you are exploring character from a simulationist perspective, you are exploring who this character is, what makes him tick, why he does what he does and what the limits are to what he will do.

    So in that sense, the creative agendum is the definition of what aspects of the explored elements are being explored.  It is both a filter on what elements matter and an engine to push exploration forward. Without it, you're not exploring.

    Quote from: Walt then
    I don't really see the relevance of the preparation for play issue. I've never tried to argue (or even thought about) whether preparation for play in general, or any specific example of it, is or is not zilchplay.

    The point of that example is that creative agendum is determined by "instances of play".

    Character generation in Legends of Alyria isn't particularly about exploring the premise; it's about preparing to explore the premise. No real exploration of premise occurs until you begin to play.

    Even more on point, character generation in Multiverser is not in any way related to any premise; it could be said to be extremely simulationist (what would you be, reduced to a game character?)--yet it can become the foundation for a solidly narrativist game almost immediately, if that's what drives the player. Thus the entire game can be narrativist, and if so, preparation for play becomes preparation for a narrativist game.

    What we're calling Zilchplay seems at best to be players wandering around in search of a reason to play. If they never find the reason, they are still preparing to play--they haven't started playing yet. If they walk into a premise and they address it, play becomes narrativist, and we discover that they have all this time been preparing to play a narrativist game. If they walk into a challenge and step up to it, we discover that this has been preparation for gamist play. If they come on something interesting and work to learn more about it, we discover that they have been preparing fo gamist play.

    Actual Play

    We had a long-running OAD&D campaign going, and the socially challenged younger brother of one of our players came over to join the game. The rather large party was mostly staying at an inn in town (they invested money in the place to make it large enough to accommodate them all as the party grew). The new player created a magic-user and I walked him into the inn, where he sat down at the bar and ordered something to drink.

    The player who ran the party leader had his character go over to the bar and sit down to chat with him. The character said little, but continued nursing his drink. The player tried to draw him into discussion, but nothing happened. The new guy ordered another drink. The rest of the players organized their characters and trooped off to continue exploration of the dungeon they had uncovered, and this player's character stayed at the bar drinking. He came back for several sessions, but all his character ever did was sit at the bar and drink.

    Now, that might be Zilchplay; that, and walking back and forth across the street between the inn and the shop, or anything that is repetitive meaningless action which reveals nothing new at any time. But frankly, if all the characters had done that, we would not have had a game.

    I'm trying to imagine this, really. I get ten guys to come sit in my living room/dining room, take on the rolls of medieval fantasy characters, and describe them ordering drinks and talking. They interact with each other. "So, Grog, how was your week?" "Oh, you know--same thing; I had to remind the grunts, 'Pillage, then burn, pillage, then burn' for I don't know how many times now, but they'll get it. You, Mandrake?" "Ah, I've been working on a new summoning spell, bigger and better beasties at my command. Should be interesting. I hear Sneaks was out your way."

    This doesn't seem much like a game. If the characters never do anything--well, O.K., it could become a wonderful foundation for Castle Falkenstein, but in that case we still have exploration (with its attendant creative agendum) through the spinning of tales individually.

    You can't really explore without having something you want to explore about the five elements. Setting: there's a brothel across the street. You want to explore it? What do you want to discover about it? You're on a spaceship. You want to explore it? What do you want to know about it? Why we're here? How powerful the ship is? How matter transmission impacts daily life in the future? If you don't want to know something about the elements, you won't explore them. If you do, that's your creative agendum.

    Thus I say Zilchplay doesn't really exist; certainly not as a mode. It's supportive of whatever mode we want, but we're not really exploring until we want to know something, and once we want to know something we've got an agendum.

    --M. J. Young


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: clehrich on February 20, 2004, 09:37:27 PM
    Quote from: Jay
    Since the LP validates any Proposal that makes it into the SIS, I think a better distinction whether a Proposal is zilchplay or not is whether or not there are any reasonable grounds for contest. If a Proposal cannot be reasonably contested it is because it has no perceived potential for requiring integration into the elements of Exploration.
    Nicely put, Jay.  Total agreement.
    Quote
    It seems to me that this description of the Exploration process includes two “additive” acts in order to be successful. First, the Proposal must be validated, i.e., the Proposal successfully navigates the LP and makes it into the SIS. Second, the Proposal must also require integration in the elements of Exploration.
    Here you lost me.  If the Proposal makes it into the SIS (Shared Imagined Space, right?), then what further integration could it require?  I think I’m reading you wrong, because this formulation seems to suggest a further stage of abstraction beyond the acceptance of SIS, in that everyone has to move to file each element of SIS in terms of its Exploration qualities.  

    You go on to explain in terms of tacit Validation; to my mind, this is parallel to the expansion of Proposal to include a non-linguistic range, e.g. the totality of the Sign.  Similarly, the Sign’s Interpretation need not be overt, explicit, or even conscious.

    As I say, I really think I’m getting you wrong here.
    Quote
    So where does CA fit into all this? CA can only be found by examining the Proposals, but only if the Proposals require integration. Even then it can be difficult in examining individual Proposals to find a goal or pattern of behavior. A moment diagnosed as zilchplay cannot determine whether a player had a Creative Agenda or not, it only says that a Creative Agenda cannot be determined from the evidence at hand. Zilchplay most assuredly is NOT a Creative Agenda. Whether or not play dominated by zilchplay moments reflects any sort of noncreative Agenda is up for debate. But this does raise some questions.
    Now here, unless I really get you very wrong, Jay, I think we’re totally on the same page.  I was wondering if this was going to move toward defining Instance rather precisely, and it looks like it is.  You can’t determine CA by examining Proposal until you can also ascertain whether the Proposal required Integration, and since you can’t tell that until a further Proposal refers backward to said Integration you need a considerable span of data for this reason.  This is only a move, of course, but I think it’s a move toward defining Instance, something that has bugged me for a long time now.

    Similarly, a moment diagnosed as zilchplay doesn’t determine whether the player had a CA because zilchplay operates at a smaller scale, i.e. the moment.

    This is, in fact, where I think Walt and M.J. are at odds:
    Looked at on the scale of Instance, zilchplay doesn’t exist because it’s meaningless in those terms.  With zilchplay moments, there’s nothing to evaluate in terms of CA, so there’s no Instance-level play, so null nothing nada.
    Looked at on the scale of Moment, zilchplay most certainly exists, but on the other hand CA doesn’t.
    Consequently I think that this increasing precision of scale will not only resolve two pals’ argument, but also help us define an essential term in GNS (i.e. Instance).
    Quote from: Jay
    Does roleplay require an agenda?
    I would say, yes. If we are putting out the effort to do something we are always motivated by some sort of desire.
    Again, this is true at the Instance level but not at what you nicely called the moment level.  I’m beginning to think that this division is stymying (is that a word?) the whole model in some respects.
    Quote from: Jay
    Must this agenda always be a Creative Agenda?
    At the Instance level, yes, because only such agendas can be analyzed at Instance level.  At the moment level, no, because CA can’t be analyzed at that level.
    Quote from: Jay
    And to just make things interesting, are there only 3 Creative Agendas possible?
    Uh oh.  Now the Hand Of Ron enters.... :-> No, seriously, I think this is a very good question, but unless and until someone finds another one in observation I’m not sure this is answerable.  And, as you say, a topic for another thread.  Interesting, though....
    Quote
    Quibbles on the usage of Simulation made twice in this thread.
    I grant your quibble.  I need to think about the terminology a bit.  You read me right, so let’s let it go; I was being imprecise.

    ----
    Quote from: Walt
    Zplay is not non-exploration, it's exploration without Creative Agenda. Distinguishing Exploration from Zplay leads only to contradiction.
    True.  But I think the contradiction comes at the precise point (yet to be debated really hard) between Instance and Moment.

    I’m still thinking through your second turn of the semiotic crank.  Give me some time....

    ---------
    Quote from: Jason
    I don't think Chris is saying anything different than what I've said in the above section, he just appears to be working on a different scale than you're think of.
    Bingo.
    Quote from: Jason
    If I've got my terms right, then unexpected Proposals can be considered Inductive, because new elements are being adding which may be used for further Deduction, Induction or Abduction.
    I don’t think your terms are off, but you’re applying them a little farther (I think) than they really go.  These are processes of interpretation, not concepts that can be predicated of a sign; that is, a sign itself can’t be any of these.  So I’d rephrase thus:
      Proposals can be considered unexpected or interesting or additive because new elements are added that may be used for further Deduction, Induction or Abduction that was not previously possible.[/list:u]In other words, if you got as far as D in your list, then a new Proposal adds something that allows you to get to E, you’ve got addition; this procedure may be direct or indirect.

      Here’s Eco (and Peirce) on the subject:
    Quote
    Quote from: Peirce
    Suppose I enter a room and there find a number of bags, containing different kinds of beans.  On the table there is a handful of white beans; and, after some searching, I find one of the bags contains white beans only.  I at once infer as a probability, or as a fair guess, that this handful was taken out of that bag....(2.623).
    In the case of logical deduction there is [a] rule from which, given a case, I deduce a result: All the beans from this bag are white — These beans are from this bag — These beans are white.

    In the case of induction, given a case and a result, I infer a rule: These beans are from this bag — These beans are white — All the beans from this bag are white (probably).

    In the case of hypothesis of abduction there is the inference of a case from a rule and a result: All the beans from this bag are white — These beans are white — These beans are from this bag (probably).¹
    So rather than parse this directly into the present terms, let me just point out an important difference between Induction and Abduction that I think is relevant (but I’m not sure exactly how).

    Abduction tends to seek confirmation.  That is, it wants to Deduce previously unknown data, then go and find that they are really there.  For example, Sherlock Holmes will look for data predicted by his Abducted imaginary story, such as broken branches where nobody was even looking at the bushes.  The more of these he finds as expected, the stronger the Abduction is.

    Induction tends to seek dis-confirmation.  That is, it tends to assume that the Deductions are valid, then seek complication.  For example, the scientist who has found that indeed, gravity works as he Induced it would, goes and plays around with anything he can find that produces gravitic effects because he wants to find that his Induction, while valid, is actually too simple.  He’s looking for further Induction, in other words.  This is how science generally understands itself, as a matter of fact.

    I guess I’d say that whether a proposal (sign) leads to Induction or Abduction depends a good deal on the system and the game.  If we’re trying to find out the ways in which the SIS is not actually the Western Saloon we expected, we’re looking for dis-confirmation, i.e. trying for Induction; you see this in games where part of the point is to find out (Induce) what’s really going on at a deep level, e.g. what the rules of magic are, etc.  If we’re trying to demonstrate to ourselves that we’ve got the SIS more or less right, that the Western Saloon is as expected, we’re looking for confirmation, i.e. Abduction; you see this in games where everyone wants to be pretty confident about the world in question so that they can do cool things with it.

    Thus I suppose I’m moving toward saying that Induction seeks Vision and Abduction seeks confirmation of the current Baseline-Vision synthesis.  Something like that, anyway.

    As far as I’m concerned, only Induction is really a CA, though both are Exploration if Abduction fails, but I do think this opens up possibilities for Jay’s other types of CA.  I’m not nearly confident enough about that to say for sure.

    Incidentally, hey thanks, Jason, for shoving a semiotic model into this!  :)

    Chris Lehrich

    P.S. I'm rather disappointed to realize that this is not my 666th post; I wasted that thanking Walt and James for statistics help.  Bugger.

    Notes
    1. Umberto Eco, A Theory of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1979), 131; quoting Charles Saunders Peirce, Collected Papers (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1931-58).


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Silmenume on February 21, 2004, 08:56:27 PM
    Lots of ideas here.  I don’t know how to make a highly synthesized response so unfortunately I’ll respond to each separately.

    Quote from: Walt Freitag
    You've taken my statement about "exploring Exploration" completely out of context. I was attempting to refute, not propose, the idea that Creative Agenda is "something Explored."


    My apologies Walt.  However I think I can see where we’re miscommunicating.  Allow me to requote the passage I was referring to and see if I can make amends.

    Quote from: Walt Freitag
    Sure, you can say, with some justification, that Gamist play is exploring Step On Up, and Narrativist play is exploring Premise or exploring Story Now. (And Sim play would be exploring Exploration.)


    My quibble lay not in contending the idea of you assertions about Creative Agenda at all, but in the way you described Sim action (which really boiled down to a vocabulary usage issue.)  I’m ok with - “Gamist play is exploring Step On Up, and Narrativist play is exploring Premise or exploring Story Now.”  My quibble lied with “…Sim play would be exploring Exploration.”  As our discussions have been progressing, the usage of the word Exploration has moved towards that of the process described as a semotic process.  My assertion is that your statement would be clearer and better served if the object of Exploration were called something different – something like the elements of Exploration.  To whit –

    And Sim play would be exploring the elements of Exploration.

    This phrasing clearly prevents any sort of confusion on the usage of Exploration and also helps keep the definition of Sim clear of the old usages that directly equated Sim with Exploration.

    I don’t know if this clears matters up.  It more clearly states where I am coming from.  Let me know if the explanation of my quibble still raises objections on your part.

    Just a side note and I will bring it up later in depth – I think that an even clearer definition would be Sim play would be Exploring the narrative elements of Exploration.

    Quote from: Walt Freitag
    This is important because examining Zplay and Creative Agenda requires a second turn of your semiotic crank, if you will. A participant has an idea or concept of a change in the Shared Imagined Space. The player expresses that idea (Sign) through or during play. It's validated (Interpreted by means of system) and if valid, it gets integrated into the Shared Imagined Space, which is the Referent. Now, take that change in the Shared Imagined Space as being itself Sign. The Referent of that Sign is the present instantiation of the Creative Agenda: the Premise in Narrativism, the fitness being demonstrated in Gamism, the aesthetics of the imagined space in Simulationism. The Creative Agenda itself (assuming coherent play) is the mode of Interpetation of the Sign. If the change in the Shared Imagined Space is not Sign, then it's Zplay.

    Quote from: Silmenume
    It seems to me that this description of the Exploration process includes two “additive” acts in order to be successful. First, the Proposal must be validated, i.e., the Proposal successfully navigates the LP and makes it into the SIS. Second, the Proposal must also require integration in the elements of Exploration. If the Proposal does not require integration, if it has added nothing to the elements of Exploration, then it could be called a zilchplay moment.


    Walt, I think we’re talking about the same thing.  You’re description of the process is much cleaner and more direct than mine.  But basically its not enough to just put something into play (proposal), but it also has to have an “effect” that requires it to be integrated in the elements of Exploration.

    DM:  Ok Bob, what about you?
    Bob:  My sword is blue.
    DM:  We know that.  Anything else?
    Bob:  My sword is blue.
    DM:  Ok.  Anything else?
    Bob:  My sword is blue.

    Every proposal/statement by Bob was successfully entered into the SIS, but other than the first proposal nothing new needs to be integrated in the elements of Exploration.  The first proposal could be said to be additive, but the last two are ostensibly zilchplay.  There were 3 statements that were validated/ratified into the SIS, but only one proposal/statement required integration into the elements of Exploration.  The first proposal addressed color, but by itself it is difficult to determine CA goal without further context.  For this example we will leave that be.  The other two proposals by Bob required no direct integration efforts.  Since nothing was added its impossible to determine what the player was up to, i.e., what his goal was, so it is impossible to diagnose CA.  These would appear to be zilchplay moments.  This is only an example, but it does demonstrate that just successfully adding to the SIS is not automatically the same as addressing a CA.  Something must be added to something else as well and I think this reflected in the “second turn of the semiotic crank.”

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    What we're calling Zilchplay seems at best to be players wandering around in search of a reason to play.

    You’re mistaking a diagnosed zilchplay moment for an Agenda.  Zilchplay is the lack of an observable agenda.

    To use your analogy - Zilchplay seems at best to be players wandering around in search of a goal of play, not a reason to play.  A grounp of kids could show up at a baseball diamond with balls, bats, and mitts and ready to have fun!  The problem is that the have not idea what they are supposed to be doing with these items.  The kids know why they are there – they are there to do something fun (reason).  They just don’t know what it is that they are supposed to be doing (goal – Creative Agenda).

    There seems to be some idea floating around that the just because we are saying that zilchplay is identifiable and a useful concept that it is being promoted as an Agenda.  To me zilchplay is to roleplay what zero is to math.  It is a useful concept whose conception allows for much more freedom in discussing theories in the model.

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    …what creative agenda tell us is why you are exploring these elements…

    I think the arrow of causality is backward here.  Let me demonstrate.  There is an implied feeling that a creative agenda is something a player overtly states and thus helps us make sense of his actions.  Instead we start off with the body of exploratory actions and in time we postulate that a certain creative agenda is in operation.  When a creative agenda is diagnosed the observer infers that the subject is acting in a certain fashion that is consistent with certain broad goals.  The CA cannot tell us anything.  We must observe actions and diagnose a CA behind such acts.  CA is a concept that is descriptive.  The best an observer can infer when a body of evidence has grown large enough that he feels that he can reasonably post that indeed a CA is in action is the general goals, not why a player is playing.  We can assume that a player who is playing with a demonstrated Sim Agenda does so because he enjoys adding to the Dream, but he could really be at the table to be near Mary.  He may be roleplaying Sim, and doing an excellent job of it, but not because he likes roleplaying Sim but because he wants to get laid.  Creative Agenda thus cannot tell us why an individual is exploring these elements – it only says that a lot of exploration actions by an individual seem to coincide with certain broad goals that are consistent with certain concepts that are contained within a theory that has labeled these things Creative Agenda.  The Creative Agenda theory makes broad assumptions about what people who favor this style of play may like, but it cannot tell us why an individual is exploring something specifically.  IOW we cannot use Creative Agenda to diagnose an individual's motives, rather we diagnose motives from the actions of an individual to determine Creative Agenda.  The big questions at the end of each of the three essays ask, “why are you exploring these elements?”

    Quote from: cruciel
    In my opinion, the specific mechanism for Validation doesn't relate to whether or not a Proposal is Integrated - all that matters is that it was Validated.


    Actually that is the BEEEEEEEEEEEEEG question at hand!  Is it merely enough for a statement to be Validated – i.e,. get into the SIS or does the fact that a certain proposal does get to be Integrated, i.e., gets added to the elements of Exploration represent a qualifiable difference?

    I say yes.  But that is what is being discussed.

    Aure Entaluva,

    Silmenume


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Silmenume on February 21, 2004, 10:47:26 PM
    Hey Chris,

    Quote from: clehrich
    Quote from: Jay
    It seems to me that this description of the Exploration process includes two “additive” acts in order to be successful. First, the Proposal must be validated, i.e., the Proposal successfully navigates the LP and makes it into the SIS. Second, the Proposal must also require integration in the elements of Exploration.
    Here you lost me.  If the Proposal makes it into the SIS (Shared Imagined Space, right?), then what further integration could it require?  I think I’m reading you wrong, because this formulation seems to suggest a further stage of abstraction beyond the acceptance of SIS, in that everyone has to move to file each element of SIS in terms of its Exploration qualities.


    You read me correctly.

    In my mind I think of the SIS as a kind of sandbox.  The elements of exploration are the “things” in the sand box.  The SIS is the place where these elements of Exploration are referenced and acted upon.  The Lumpley Principle merely says when and under what circumstances someone can play in the sandbox.  When we build new things in the sand box we have added to the elements of Exploration.  Its not enough that the “DM” puts things in the sandbox, we must be adding to the structures in the sandbox specifically.  If we just play with things that are already there or can be reasonably assumed to be there, that is zilchplay.  It is the act of us players building things in the sandbox, that is the act of roleplay - at least that is what is being proposed and which proposal that zilchplay makes possible. It’s not enough to be just playing with the sand or asking about the structures that are there.  Building structures and referencing structures that are there are both actions in the SIS, but only building is adding to what is there.

    Creative Agenda would be to what end we are building things in the sandbox.

    I don’t know if this analogy helps or hinders.

    Aure Entaluva,

    Silmenume


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: M. J. Young on February 22, 2004, 03:25:14 PM
    Quote from: Silmenume
    Quote from: M. J. Young
    …what creative agenda tell us is why you are exploring these elements…

    I think the arrow of causality is backward here....we start off with the body of exploratory actions and in time we postulate that a certain creative agenda is in operation.  When a creative agenda is diagnosed the observer infers that the subject is acting in a certain fashion that is consistent with certain broad goals.  The CA cannot tell us anything.  We must observe actions and diagnose a CA behind such acts.  CA is a concept that is descriptive.

    In the main, I don't think we are too far from each other; but I think you misunderstand me here.

    We watch objects fall. We measure the rate at which they fall. We conclude from watching the objects fall that there is a force acting upon them, which we call the attraction of masses. Our experiments demonstrate that the actions of all objects are consistent with the belief that such a force exists. Now, when we ask why an object falls, we answer "because of a force that draws matter toward matter, called the attraction of masses." We have not ever actually proved that such a force exists directly; we have inferred its existence by the observation of the actions of objects.

    So, too, with creative agenda, we observe the actions of players in great detail, and from these actions we infer the existence of a creative agendum. Just as the attraction of masses tells us why objects fall, so too the creative agendum tells us why players explore what they explore.
    Quote from: Jay further
    We can assume that a player who is playing with a demonstrated Sim Agenda does so because he enjoys adding to the Dream, but he could really be at the table to be near Mary.  He may be roleplaying Sim, and doing an excellent job of it, but not because he likes roleplaying Sim but because he wants to get laid.

    O.K., this is where the problem of "intent" comes in, and why Ron doesn't like it. Coming from a legal background, I have a rather solid understanding of "double intent". Someone intended to do this because he intended to do that. Player intended to play simulationism well because he intended to impress Mary by doing so. Human motivations are complex, certainly; but the motivation that drives exploration still falls into one of these categories, even if the motivation for exploring at all falls outside them. Just because he wanted to impress Mary doesn't mean he didn't want to play simulationist; he's got one motivation (impressing Mary) which drives the other motivation (exploring the dream) which drives his play. The burglar intends to break into your house because he intends to steal your silver; the fact that he intends to steal your silver doesn't negate the fact that he intends to break into your house--it is the motivation behind the motivation. In fact, if he doesn't intend to break into your house or he doesn't intend to steal your silver, he's not guilty of burglary (which requires breaking and entering for the purpose of committing a felony).

    Thus creative agendum tells us why someone is exploring those elements, and what aspects of those elements he wishes to explore. It's just that it's reached from the other end--it is assumed that a player explores those aspects that he is motivated to explore, and therefore what he explores, and how, tells us why.

    Prediction from that is not as accurate as prediction from attraction of masses, but that's because it's a much more complex process with a lot more variables. If I know someone's creative agendum is narrativism, I can predict with reasonable accuracy that he is going to address premise; without knowing a lot more about that person, I can't easily predict what he will say about the premise.

    I don't think we're too far apart on this, and I hope this clarifies it.

    --M. J. Young


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Walt Freitag on February 23, 2004, 08:01:16 AM
    Quote from: Jay
    Walt, I think we’re talking about the same thing. You’re description of the process is much cleaner and more direct than mine. But basically its not enough to just put something into play (proposal), but it also has to have an “effect” that requires it to be integrated in the elements of Exploration.

    DM: Ok Bob, what about you?
    Bob: My sword is blue.
    DM: We know that. Anything else?
    Bob: My sword is blue.
    DM: Ok. Anything else?
    Bob: My sword is blue.

    Every proposal/statement by Bob was successfully entered into the SIS, but other than the first proposal nothing new needs to be integrated in the elements of Exploration. The first proposal could be said to be additive, but the last two are ostensibly zilchplay. There were 3 statements that were validated/ratified into the SIS, but only one proposal/statement required integration into the elements of Exploration. The first proposal addressed color, but by itself it is difficult to determine CA goal without further context. For this example we will leave that be. The other two proposals by Bob required no direct integration efforts. Since nothing was added its impossible to determine what the player was up to, i.e., what his goal was, so it is impossible to diagnose CA. These would appear to be zilchplay moments. This is only an example, but it does demonstrate that just successfully adding to the SIS is not automatically the same as addressing a CA. Something must be added to something else as well and I think this reflected in the “second turn of the semiotic crank.”


    You're pretty close, but I don't think I'm getting the main point across. I assume that with the "first turn of the crank" any change is fully integrated into the shared imagined space and the Elements of Exploration once verified/ratified. The "second turn" is what answers the question, regarding the change, "so what?" For the first turn, the player's utterance "My sword is blue" is the Sign; for the second, the now-established fact within the shared imagined space that Bob's character's sword is blue is the Sign. The Interpetation, Integration etc. of that Sign will often be a longer-term process carried out through sustained play.

    Here's the "first turn of the crank:"

    Bob: My sword is blue.
    GM: OK.

    Here's how the "second turn" might go:

    Someone: So Bob's sword is blue. So what?
    Bob: As you may or may not know, once a newly acquired weapon has been wielded by a PC for a full month, there's a one-time 2% chance of discovering it has a previously undetected magical quality. But that chance increases to 5% if the weapon has "unusual materials, construction, or appearance." By establishing now that the blade is blue, I'm planning ahead to increase my chance of getting a magical weapon for free.

    or:

    Someone: So Bob's sword is blue. So what?
    Bob: If anyone asks my character about it in-character, I plan to explain that among the island people I came from, there are many legends about a cadre of ancient heroes called the Moristi, who wielded cold blue steel against the fire-demons that threatened to overwhelm the islands and turn the sea into steam. When my character found a blue-steel blade while pearl diving, embedded in coral but unrusted, he knew it was a sign that the fire-demons were returning and he was being called to live the life of a hero of legend. So, the blue blade is a reminder of my character's background and also a possible plot hook for a major adventure arc.

    OR

    (Ok, you get the idea, no need to do everyhing in threes all the time.)

    Now, I'm not saying these dialogs ever actually take place in those terms. It's the player's or the GM's future actions that establish that kind of answers to the "so what?" And the question itself, "so what?," is rarely if ever (in functional play, at least) asked explicitly. Its continuous implicit asking is (or is not, as the case may be) part of the Social Contract -- or even beyond that, it's one important reason why a Social Contract might have been made in the first place. Me and you and a dog named Boo are sharing an Imagined Space; why? Perhaps because I trust that when you put something into it, you can make good on the "so what?" of our joint endeavor, and you trust me the same way.

    But that's not always the case. If the question "so what" is never asked (that is, there never is any expectation of an answer emerging eventually), or is asked but never answered, then it's zilchplay.

    Bob: My sword is blue.
    Someone: So what?
    Bob: It just is. Piss off.

    Does that mean Bob doesn't have an answer like the previous examples? Or that he has one in mind but doesn't want to reveal it? Or that he has no specific answer in mind right now, but intends to invent one down the road? There's no way to tell at the moment, but future play will make it clear.

    Bob: My sword is blue.
    Someone: So what?
    Bob: No reason, that was the result when I rolled "unusual weapon appearance" on the character quirks table, and then a 37 on the unusual weapon appearance subtable.

    Bob: My sword is blue.
    Someone: So what?
    Bob: The GM told me that there should be "something unusual" about my character. That's what I came up with.

    Bob: My sword is blue.
    Someone: No it's not. It's just an ordinary sword.
    Bob: I can say it's blue if I want to.
    Someone: OK, it's a completely ordinary blue sword. Sheesh. You going to open that door or what?

    These are all likely zilchplay. In all cases the "first turn of the crank" is successful (though with resistance, in the last example). The blueness of Bob's sword is fully established as a new fact in the shared imagined space. What's missing is any relevant answer to "so what"?

    If Creative Agenda is the way the implicit "so what?" questions are answered in play, then we might expect that incoherence is when not all participants are satisfied with the answers.

    Player: What was a pit doing there?
    GM: It's presence challenged you to exhibit caution and alertness, and bypassing it or dealing with its effects tested your resourcefulness and efficiency.
    Player: No, I mean, who would have put a pit there and why? It's on the main passageway between the sanctuary and the dormitories. How could the temple have functioned if the cult members were falling into pits every time they went to worship?
    GM: Wiseass.

    - Walt


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Silmenume on February 25, 2004, 03:23:03 AM
    Quote from: M. J. Young
    Thus creative agendum tells us why someone is exploring those elements, and what aspects of those elements he wishes to explore. It's just that it's reached from the other end--it is assumed that a player explores those aspects that he is motivated to explore, and therefore what he explores, and how, tells us why.


    I buy your explanation.  It’s just that the “tells us why” sounds suspiciously like predicting motivation or intent.  That’s what sent the worry hackles all a scurry!  But I do believe that I am with you.

    I guess what you’re saying is from a game point of view.  Kinda like describing why a player (the pitcher specifically) is doing something on the mound (pitching) during a game as opposed to explaining why the pitcher is playing baseball in the first place.

    By the way, this is my take on what I think you’re saying.  I do not mean this to be an authoritative representation of your thoughts.  Let me know if I am close!

    Walt, I am going to have to reread the proposed semiotic model and do some navel gazing before I can respond effectively.  The problem is that I see both processes, your and mine, and I can’t figure out which is more representative, though I am leaning strongly towards yours.

    It has been over 24 hours since I started this reply and I have lost nearly all train of thought on this.  I apologize that I have nothing more to offer right now.  Everyone has worked very hard trying to come to terms with the ideas that have been proposed in here and I have just totally brain f*rted.  Complete mental derailment.  I feel as if I have failed to hold up my end of the bargain.  Alas……

    Aure Entaluva,

    Silmenume


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Ron Edwards on February 25, 2004, 06:05:00 AM
    Hello,

    I propose that we give this thread a noble burial and take some time to mull over its contents, then start discussion about these issues in new threads.

    Jay, slow is better.

    Best,
    Ron


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: M. J. Young on February 25, 2004, 09:25:18 PM
    If I may just respond to one minor point that seems to have been asked particularly of me and really (I think) doesn't warrant its own thread:
    Quote from: Silmenume
    I guess what you’re saying is from a game point of view.  Kinda like describing why a player (the pitcher specifically) is doing something on the mound (pitching) during a game as opposed to explaining why the pitcher is playing baseball in the first place.

    By the way, this is my take on what I think you’re saying.  I do not mean this to be an authoritative representation of your thoughts.  Let me know if I am close!

    That is exactly correct, and a very good example. I could quibble that the pitcher's choice of what to do is in most cases tactics, but not in all cases. The designated adult pitcher in a very little league game has an entirely different approach to play (give them something they can hit) than one in the World Series (give them something they can't hit). It's that level of thinking. Sure, the latter is there because they're paying him a slew of money and the former because he wants to help the kids, but it is that which the player wants to achieve in game that is defined by creative agendum.

    --M. J. Young


    Title: zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!
    Post by: Ron Edwards on February 26, 2004, 06:28:39 AM
    Good point about the baseball.

    Time to close the thread now, for sure.

    Best,
    Ron