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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Connections between Setting & Color  (Read 2461 times)
Kesher
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Posts: 174


« on: June 30, 2004, 07:47:19 PM »

Howdy.
Just wondering if someone could help me clear this up:

If Setting is defined as the "place where things happen" (a paraphrase of the basic GNS article), then is Color basically the filling in of the outline?

Example (using the immediately accessible LotR...)

Setting: A fantasy world about to be embroiled in a apocaplyptic war.

Color: All the specific names (& histories) of places, landscape description, the differences between, say, the Riders of Rohan and hobbits, etc.  In other words, what I think I saw described somewhere as "kewlness"?

Thanks.
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Mojo
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Posts: 9


« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 09:50:17 PM »

Yep,

I'd go a little further.

Character: The numbers, kickers and other game influencing stuff

Color of Character: Non-game relevant characterisation and details (name, habits, hair color etc).

System: "Conflict Mechanics" ie attribute vs target number

Color of System: Attribute names, dice used (potentially, depending on probabilities)

I think color as something distinct from system, character and setting is somewhat misleading.
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Valamir
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« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2004, 03:37:00 AM »

color is more the mood and imagery.

In a Spaghetti western movie, the setting might be "Dry Gulch, Arizona 1873"

The color is: the unreasonably wide streets, the miles of arid plain and desert with nary a drop of green to be seen, the creaking of the signs and boardwalk, the dust, the odd camera angles, the amped up level of brutality, the fuzzy morality, the love affair with the terrain and exotic scenery, the feeling of emptiness (empty lives, empty spaces).

Color is definitely distinct from setting, because these color elements could be transported out of the American West and dropped into the Australian Outback, or a space colony on Mars.  Color is all about the feel of the imagery.

Game mechanics are often an effective and under utilized way of conveying color.  Traditionally color is the provenance of flavor text and art.  But good game mechanics can contribute alot.
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komradebob
Member

Posts: 462


« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2004, 05:41:13 AM »

Thanks for the original question. That clarifies things for me as well.

Can the physical artifacts used with a game count as color as well?

Ralph mentioned artwork, but what about the choice of things like dice, minis, maps, etc?

Has anyone thought about these aspects and how they affect gameplay and player perception?

I'm thinking primarily as visual prompts.

Thanks,
Robert
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Robert Earley-Clark

currently developing:The Village Game:Family storytelling with toys
Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 05:46:33 AM »

Thanks for the responses!

You both answered my question and, in true Forge style, pointed out something more subtle.  I like the idea of the System being saturated with the same Color (mood, atmosphere) that you're trying for in the more nebulous "world" of the game itself.  If it can be pulled off, it has the potential of creating quite a positive feedback loop in the play experience.

I think this is probably why I always felt unsatisfied with games like Stormbringer and Elfquest; the system did nothing at all to capture the very evident, rich Color of either Setting (a misapplication of a generalized System.)
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Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2004, 05:53:48 AM »

Komradebob,

I would think, in the context discussed above, absolutely external "artifacts" could be thought of as Color as well.  It then extends to (assuming it was a hardcopy) published format (think of the different "existential atmospheres" created by, say, Nobilis as opposed to the old DnD White Box).

I suppose if you were, as a game designer, were to go down this path, you'd need to be careful not to overload on schlock...  (though, speaking for myself, I have a high schlock tolerance, as long as it's not masquerading as content...)[/quote]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2004, 10:42:36 AM »

Hiya,

I like to put the five components of Exploration in a more-or-less algebraic arrangment, like this:

[[Character + Setting = Situation]*System]*Color

So when you multiply Situation by System, you get imaginative events. But you multiply all of that by Color, whenever and however.

So yeah, physical artifacts of play can used for Color, either personally like "I roll my red dice for damage!" or generally like using the Roman tali for the resolution system in Fvlminata.

Best,
Ron
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jrs
Member

Posts: 373


« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2004, 11:02:17 AM »

I'd rather see Ron's arrangement, described like this:

Situation = Character + Setting
Exploration = Situation * System * Color

It's more easy on my eyes.

Julie
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Valamir
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2004, 04:03:54 PM »

Yeah Kesher.  

Long before I'd ever logged on to my first BBS back in the day that was one of my main soap boxes.  I used to call it making the mechanics fit the genre, but what I was really talking about in current lingo is delivering color through system.  It was and is the primary reason why I have a pretty strong dislike for generic systems.  The very thing that makes them generic also makes them devoid of color.

Game artifacts are certainly important to color.  Probably the most important, oft ignored yet easiest artifact is the character sheet itself.  Too often character sheets are just stat lists...like the old pack of AD&D character sheets you could buy.  The closes thing to a color element on those sheets was putting your armor class in a shield shaped box.  But character sheets are going to be handled and looked at more than any other single prop in the game.  They are perfect opportunities for delivering color.  

Ben Morgan is a character sheet genius in this regard.  Look at the sheets he did for Inspectres or OctaNe as prime examples.


Dice and other randomizer mechanics also add color.

Take a look at the use of poker in Dust Devils, or cards and poker chips in Deadlands.  The cards themselves aren't the color, but rather the association of the cards to the western genre.  Savage World also uses cards, but in that game they don't provide any real color because there's nothing in the setting that the cards are evocative of.


One of the more commonly used color enhancing mechanics is in attribute names.  "Snap", "Jazz", and "Moxy" evoke a much different feel than "Strength, Constitution, and Charisma"

In L5R the system of organizing the attributes into Rings associated with elements was largely color.  The system of character advancement that meant the most effective way of increasing character effectiveness was to achieve balance among these attributes actually tied directly in to the notions of Zen and balance and philosophy in the setting.  A very effective delivery.
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Kesher
Member

Posts: 174


« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2004, 08:03:18 PM »

Quote from: Valamir
 It was and is the primary reason why I have a pretty strong dislike for generic systems.  The very thing that makes them generic also makes them devoid of color.


I have a feeling that what makes the difference is the ability, within the generic/general system, to pipe the Color through the already existing system.  I think of Fudge when I mention this, but also yer own Universalis (I know it's not exacly a general system, but you can pour the color through the mechanics... or maybe the mechanics are more like clear pipes...)

Anyhow,

Quote
Ben Morgan is a character sheet genius in this regard.  Look at the sheets he did for Inspectres or OctaNe as prime examples.


Yeah, I own OctaNe, and those character sheets make ya wanna duh-rive, baby...  or at least shift alot...  you know, while driving...

Quote
One of the more commonly used color enhancing mechanics is in attribute names.  "Snap", "Jazz", and "Moxy" evoke a much different feel than "Strength, Constitution, and Charisma"


Absolutely.  This is, re-reading it, what I was getting at above about Fudge, etc.

And, btw, I hafta say, even the old, red box DnD bland-o char sheets still fill up my mind with some kind of Color, maybe nostalgia, I don't know, being 12 and gaming with my dad... You know, maybe that's a whole different kind of Color, something that attaches over time, through memory and experience, in the context of actually playing the game (or maybe even just constantly re-reading it.)

Hmmm...
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Valamir
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2004, 06:20:09 AM »

Quote
You know, maybe that's a whole different kind of Color, something that attaches over time, through memory and experience, in the context of actually playing the game (or maybe even just constantly re-reading it.)


Absolutely.  They're both imagery that's evocative.  Color is imagery that (hopefully) is evocative of what the game designer wanted it to be evocative of.  Nostalgia is imagery that for entirely personal reasons evokes memories.

I would venture to say that this is a big part of the reason for D&D3Es success.  The relatively colorless d20 mechanics, 6 standard attributes rated 3-18, etc evokes those memories of our early roleplaying.  Completely intentionally on their part.
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