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Author Topic: The Model as seen by Valamir [Long. Very, very long]  (Read 36182 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #30 on: August 09, 2004, 07:41:54 AM »

Quote from: Paganini
Ralph, this just looks so backwards to me. To me, it seems like the ultimate display of Creative Agenda is what choice the player makes when he can  have anything he wants, but must pick only one.


I don't disagree with that.  But let me ask you.  Who was it that decided he could only have one.  Over what sequence of events was it established that there were multiple choices but you must pick one of them?  Most likely other players...perhaps the GM.  i.e. the other side to the adversity.

If the same player a) selected what the choices are, b) decided the character could have only 1, and c) chose which one then the choice isn't nearly so powerful.  

Creative Agenda isn't just about what you want.  Its also about what you're willing to sacrifice to get what you want, and as importantly, what you're not willing to sacrifice to get what you want.  This touches on issues of Congruence...those occassions when everyone can get what they want and no one has to make any sacrifices...and Agenda can't be distinguished.

Now maybe you can postulate some player who is, figuratively speaking, able to split themselves so completely that 1 half of the player can set up the choices while the other half of the player makes the choice.  In other words that its possible for a player to be that completely objective about the situation to give true real adversity to themselves...but I don't really buy that being anything other than an unusual exception.
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Paganini
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« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2004, 06:21:43 PM »

Ralph, this is really weird. It's like we're coming from opposite sides of the universe on this one. And that's bizarre, because like 99% of your Big Post makes total sense to me.

Quote
Who was it that decided he could only have one. Over what sequence of events was it established that there were multiple choices but you must pick one of them? Most likely other players...perhaps the GM. i.e. the other side to the adversity.


I'm thinking about this stuff from a perspective internal to the SiS. The choices that are available aren't decided by anyone; neither are they necessarily limited by anything other than the contents of the SiS itself. If you choose to kill some NPC, then obviously you can't choose at the same time to let NPC live.

That's all I meant  by "can have anything he wants, but must pick only one." I didn't intend to imply any kind of internal limiter to the decision-making process, beyond what's been previously established in the SiS.

Basically, what you're saying boils down to "if one person is doing all the work, and everyone else is just watching, then it's agenda-less play." I agree with that on a macro scale, in the sense that, if, say, the GM does all the talking, all the time, then it's just that one guy with an audience.

But when you close the focus down to interractions in a group is where I'm getting hung up. I have no problem with one person setting up and resolving a conflict all by himself, as long as he isn't the *only* person who sets up and resolves conflicts throughout all play.

Shadows is the main thing I'm thinking of here. The player can (and has in my games) narrate his character into a situation, call for a roll, and get the result he wants. In Shadows it's impossible for the player to ever get a result he doesn't want, because the player defines both the "good" and "bad" outcomes of every roll. When the player calls for a roll, which he can do at any time, he automatically gets a say in what happens.
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Valamir
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« Reply #32 on: August 09, 2004, 07:41:41 PM »

Quote from: Paganini
Ralph, this is really weird. It's like we're coming from opposite sides of the universe on this one. And that's bizarre, because like 99% of your Big Post makes total sense to me.


Well hey...99% agreement is like some kind of record so I'm good with that ;-)

I really don't know what else to say that isn't in my post above.  I think adversity is an essential component of conflict.  I think you can have adversity and I think you can have the illusion of adversity.  I think that when you have 1 player playing solitaire that 99 times in 100 what you get is the illusion of adversity.  I don't think the illusion of adversity is sufficient to establish conflict for the purpose I'm using conflict in my essay.


Quote
Shadows is the main thing I'm thinking of here. The player can (and has in my games) narrate his character into a situation, call for a roll, and get the result he wants. In Shadows it's impossible for the player to ever get a result he doesn't want, because the player defines both the "good" and "bad" outcomes of every roll. When the player calls for a roll, which he can do at any time, he automatically gets a say in what happens.


Shadows is a good test case.  I haven't played it so I can't say for sure.  But one avenue to investigate is whether or not the actual adversity is really defined by the dice mechanic.  I suspect that the real adversity faced in Shadows is not found in the dice at all, but in the other players and what they do.
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Paganini
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« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2004, 07:08:36 AM »

I can't find in any adversity in Shadows, honestly. My play experiences have basically been like this:

The basic layer of Shadows is like a standard freeform / "systemless" game. The players say what their charcters think, feel, intend to do, and so on. The GM sets the scene and and narrates what happens. So, basic drama resolution.

When a player rolls the dice, he automatically gets "story power." The story power is limited to the scope to the conflict at hand, but otherwise can do pretty much anything the player wants (i.e., manipulate the envoronment, do stuff to / with NPCs). The statement "I want to make a roll" when coming from a player means "hey, I want some additional input into the SiS here." The statement "make a roll" when coming from the GM means "dude, I'm bushed, you think up something cool here." :)

The player's power is not unlimited in Shadows - the player's input is constrained to the immediate conflict at hand in the SiS, *and* the player has to propose two possible outcomes, one "good" one, and one "bad" one for the dice to choose.

The real point of the dice mechanic in Shadows is to give the rest of the group the ability to alter which of the two potential results are actually chosen.

No matter how the roll eventually turns out, though, the player who rolls pre-determines the two results. So, the player can be responsible for both halves of a conflict... setup, then calling for a roll to describe what happens.

The important thing here is that, even though there's a "good" result and a "bad" result, *both* are invented by the player who makes the roll - so he'll always get a result he likes. Furthermore, "good" and "bad" results have no mechanical significance or representation. The "good" and "bad" results are in reference to the character and the SiS context; the only explicit constraint on them in the rules is that the player inventing the outcomes has to convince the GM that the character really is worse off in the local SiS context if he gets the "bad" result than if he gets the "good" result.

So, basically, the player never has a chance of not getting *a* result he wants, one of two.  He can call for a roll at any time he percieves a conflict, even stating one into existence with the roll declaration, *and* he invents the totality of possible outcomes for the conflict - all two of them.

Some come on by #indierpgs sometime, and we'll try it out. :)
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2004, 07:11:46 AM »

Hiya,

Over and over, people keep interpreting "adversity" to mean actual-people conflict of interest or stress. And over and over, I have to keep saying, adversity refers to the imaginary situations in which the characters find themselves and (fictionally) feel compelled to act. It seems to me that Shadows is nothing but such situations.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2004, 07:43:34 AM »

Hey Ron, that's not really the issue I'm trying to get at.

There's no question that the adversity is faced by the character.

The issue that I see and that Nathan is questioning is my notion of real adversity vs. illusionary adversity.

Illusionary adversity is, to me, what characters are faced with when the same player is representing both the interests of the character and the interests of the source of adversity.

As long as you have 1 player representing the character facing the adversity and 1 player (historically a GM) representing the adversity then we're all good and all in agreement.

Its really the very narrow special case of one player playing both sides that Nathan and I are trying to hash out, and that by its nature does have some meta issues that get dragged into the question.
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Paganini
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« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2004, 06:57:39 PM »

What Ralph said.

And, the reason that this whole thing jumped out and grabbed me is that I've played a lot of games, and experimented with my own designs, where there are specific instances of a player playing both sides in a conflict. The Shadows example was one. I've also had it in TQB. Also in Universalis where one person controls all of the Components that are in involved in the Conflict, so there's no Complication.

I see Ralph as saying that this kind of play is pure-Exploration, non-CA play. And that doesn't seem right to me, because how can you distinguish our Shadows game from Nar play, then? We had conflicts, resolutions, player authoring, "grooving," the whole works. It just happened to take place in the context of a particular power split in which one player player can control both ends of the pipe.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #37 on: August 13, 2004, 10:30:05 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
There's no question that the adversity is faced by the character.

The issue that I see and that Nathan is questioning is my notion of real adversity vs. illusionary adversity.

Illusionary adversity is, to me, what characters are faced with when the same player is representing both the interests of the character and the interests of the source of adversity.

I think the point Ron was making is that the distinction you're making doesn't apply.
Quote from: Ron
I have to keep saying, adversity refers to the imaginary situations in which the characters find themselves and (fictionally) feel compelled to act. It seems to me that Shadows is nothing but such situations.

According to that phrasing, it doesn't matter whether there's any real doubt about the outcome in the minds of the players. What matters for adversity to exist is that the characters don't know what's going to happen.

Thus in Shadows or Universalis it is entirely possible for one player to decide that a character faces a problem, and that the problem is resolved with these results, and thus have adversity within the game world, even if the player decided exactly how it was going to work out the day before the game.

What's missing from this in play may be some sort of dramatic tension; but even this is doubtful. If one player creates the adversity and resolves it, but the other players don't know how it's going to be resolved, there could very well be dramatic tension for the players who don't know what's going to happen--we have that all the time in fixed media.

Thus the question would seem to be what is the place of dramatic tension in relation to the players who are establishing and resolving situations.

When as Ralph suggests one player faces the adversity and another represents it, we actually have two players creating adversity for each other, each in turn facing and then representing adversity. The dramatic tension arises from the fact that no one at all actually knows what will happen next, because when I am in the position of representing adversity I don't know how it will be faced, and when I am facing adversity I don't know how it will be represented (to keep the same terms).

If I know both, then there is no dramatic tension for me; I may be creating dramatic tension for others. The question is how that experience fits into exploration. I think that at times it must fit into exploration --there will be times when one player (most often the referee) is going to present adversity and resolve it (e.g., as part of the background). Yet if we never have the dramatic tension created by two players undertaking these tasks, I'm not certain we still have exploration--it approaches cooperative storytelling to a degree that seems to lose something significant.

I don't know what that is, though, so maybe I'm wrong.

--M. J. Young
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Valamir
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« Reply #38 on: August 13, 2004, 10:57:06 AM »

I'm not exactly sure where you're going with that MJ, but it seems like a different tangent.

Regardless of whether one wants to call it illusionary adversity, or real adversity with no dramatic tension (or whatever else seems to make the most sense to call it), my point is that what you don't have is a Conflict as I defined it in the essay.  Therefor, since Creative Agenda (as I defined it) is how a player responds to conflict, this situation (because it isn't a real conflict) is not representative of the player's Creative Agenda.

I say this because the Creative Agenda must be what the player prioritizes most.  When a player has control of both sides of the adversity they may demonstrate that they like A.  But we can't tell if they like A enough to sacrifice B, because since the player controls both sides the player never has to choose to sacrifice B in order to get A

Only when there is what I've been calling "real adversity" i.e. the chance for the player to not get the outcome that the player wants from the adversity the character is facing is the player forced to make hard choices about A at the expense of B or not A at the expense of B that demonstrates which Creative Agenda is at work.

As I mentioned before, it was play of Universalis that really drove this distinction home for me, because "B" in Universalis is always Coins (or more precisely what can be bought in the future for Coins).  So the trade of is very simple and easy to identify.  How valuable A is to a player is based entirely on how much B (Coins) they're willing to sacrifice to get it.  When a player is in Control of the whole scene and there is no Complication, the B being sacrificed is just the baseline spend 1 to get 1 standard.  Its when it goes to a Complication (or a Challenge) and you have the risk of not being able to get A, that we see exactly how much A is worth.


I think there is this same trade off in all roleplaying Conflicts, it just is alot more subtle and complex then raw Coins.  Its not a Gamist tendency, because winning and losing aren't about the bragging rights of step on up.  Its a Creative Agenda thing because its about committment to what's most important to the player (at the level of individual decision points).  And we can only see what's most important to the player when there's the chance that the player won't get it.  Only then are the character's decisions made at those times (during Conflicts) meaningful enough and important enough to be representative of the player's CA.
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Paganini
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« Reply #39 on: August 14, 2004, 03:03:10 PM »

So, there are a bunch of places in here were I write "you're saying;" this is obviously shorthand for "I think you're saying, but maybe I misunderstood" or "what I understand from your post" and so on, just like when we say a "nar game" as opposed to a "game text that facilitates narrativist play when applied as writen in an actual game situation."

Quote from: Valamir
I'm not exactly sure where you're going with that MJ, but it seems like a different tangent.


Well, M.J. is talking about pretty much the exact same thing I am, so....

Basically, I don't think your definition of conflict is a good one. You seem to be mushing the separate concepts of authorship (which real person controls which component, and who gets to have his way) with SiS (which imaginary characters in the imaginary situation gets to have his way) into one tangled confused lump.

"Creative Agenda" is what the real person wants to imagine, that individual player's goal for the contents of the SiS. It's the driving "why," the reason behind that player's choices during the game.

We classify specific Creative Agendas according to what the player hopes to gain in terms of SiS content:

"I want my character to defeat the orcs, because it'll show everyone else what a badass my character is."

"I want my character to defeat the orcs, because it'll make an emotionally charged point about duty and personal sacrifice that I identify with."

"I want my character to defeat the orcs, because it makes sense for that to happen, given that the orcs are an undisciplined rabble, and my character has been training like mad to prepare for this fight."

The important thing here is that it doesn't matter worth spit who is controling the orcs; if the one player controlls both his character and the orcs, then the orcs will be defeated, and the player's creative agenda will have been realized. He'll have shown his friends what a hotshot he is; the thematic point will have been made; causality will have been observed.

In this case, the SiS result will be the same, regardless of the CA; the transcript will contain an account of some orcs being defeated by a character. In other words, there were multiple reasons for selecting that one individual option.

Reading that transcript, we can't tell what the player's specific reason was. But the player still had one. There was a reason he chose to narrate the defeat of the orcs. Maybe even more than one. Maybe it was even "Rock! I can make my thematic point without breaking causality in a way that shows everyone else how cool my character is!"

My example case so far was of Situation with Characters -  but not players - in opposition.

But creative agenda is present all the time. You can have CA disputes with players - but not Characters - in opposition.

A trivial example: A guy has his character take the character's new wheels out for a spin, and another player (let's say he's an auto mechanic) argues that the car can't go as fast as the rules (and the first player) say it can. It has nothing to do with any conflict between characters in the SiS. The auto mechanic player simply doesn't want to imagine the car going faster than he knows it can. I this case, you've got real world opposition, but no SiS conflict.

This kind of thing comes up a lot in, for example, games with rules for out-of-time advancement, where you want to know exactly how long it takes you to make your cross-country journey so you know how many skill points you accumulate. (I actually saw this discussion once, only it was with horses instead of cars.)

So, IMO, to require A: An imaginary situation of conflict between imaginary characters in the SiS, and B: the adversity of the conflict being represented by a separate player, uproots the entire "Big Model" as we know it. This is not just a little change you're proposing. You're saying that no matter what a player wants, no matter how badly he wants it, it's not narrativism (or gamism or simulationism) unless there's another real person trying to stop the player from getting what he wants. This is like saying "Play is just play, except for certain specific cases where it's something more than play."

Quote
I say this because the Creative Agenda must be what the player prioritizes most.  When a player has control of both sides of the adversity they may demonstrate that they like A.  But we can't tell if they like A enough to sacrifice B, because since the player controls both sides the player never has to choose to sacrifice B in order to get A


But no. By choosing A, the player has not only sacrificed B, but also C, D, E . . . Z ^ infinity + 1 - in other words, anything that's not A. The whole point is why that player wanted A to be picked, not whether someone else was trying to stop the player from picking A.

Edit: Zot! It just struck me that you said "WE CAN'T TELL." If you're talking about visibility of CA, as opposed to the existence of CA, then that's something else. I visualize it as a set of three number lines. A Creative Agenda is basically a specific goal that you either move towards (positive direction), or away from (negative direction). Every time a player inputs the SiS, all three sliders move.

I see three levels of external identification to CA. The first level would be (I think) what you call Exploration Only. The specific CA of an individual player is invisible at this level, because all three Agendas are supported equally well by the player's decision:

Code:

     -1   0  +1
Gam <-+---+---X->
     -1   0  +1
Nar <-+---+---X->
     -1   0  +1
Sim <-+---+---X->


The second level is where you can eliminate one of the CAs because the player's decision moved away from the goal of that CA, but supported two others equally well:

Code:

     -1   0  +1
Gam <-+---+---X->
     -1   0  +1
Nar <-+---+---X->
     -1   0  +1
Sim <-X---+---+->


The third level is where you can isolate a single CA as being the only one in opperation, because the player's decision moved away from both of the others:

Code:

     -1   0  +1
Gam <-X---+---+->
     -1   0  +1
Nar <-X---+---+->
     -1   0  +1
Sim <-+---+---X->


I'm using "decision" kinda loosely here. It really means any input into the SiS, like the auto mechanic above. The real decision there was not about *what to input,* but about whether or not the effort of inputting it was worth the support that the auto mechanic gained for his CA. I.e., is it worth the effort of arguing, getting out car manuals, internet statistics, etc., to flip that Sim slider (or maybe the Sim / Gam sliders) from -1 to +1 wrt Car Speed. Because of this, I still don't agree that you must have Internal and External conflict and opposition in order to identify CA.
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Marco
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« Reply #40 on: August 14, 2004, 04:15:02 PM »

I think that the problem with controlling both sides in the conflict is that depending on the level of control you have of the opposition nothing might be proved by generating an outcome.

If the guy runs the orcs fairlly or has a computer run them, he's competing with, sorta, the game designer (or the dice). If there's lots of tactics involved and that makes the difference then the guy won't, for example, prove he's a bad-ass (if I see a chess player play a game against himself, even if the winning side starts minus a queen, I won't be convinced he's baaad--just that he was capable of putting on a funky show).

If the defeat of the orcs is in real question, I think it's real adversity--and, essentially, someone else is playing.

Contracycle called this "objectifying the challenge"--and he noted that the use of dice do this too.

So I'd say that as long as the challenge is objectified then, yes, you'll get cred for your gamism, prove that "that's what would happen," or actually make a statement--but I wouldn't say that:

1. Placing the orcs in your path is the same thing as fighting them (i.e. using the dice).
2. Fighting them in an un-objectified way counts as actual adversity in most ways (it has been noted that a writer writing his character out of a tough situation is a challenge so there are some ways that it might count--but in RPG contexts I'm not sure that's anything but a real edge condition).

-Marco
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