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Author Topic: Design theory vs. play desires  (Read 5052 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2002, 07:50:03 AM »

Hello,

As the originator of these statements, I think I'll point out when they're being misquoted and misused.

"I've seen posts that say something is broken if you need house rules to play it. I've seen a post that says that The Window will need some house rules to play in a Narrativist Fashion or a Sim Fashion. I've seen posts that say The Window isn't broken. I think they were all from people in general agreement."

The phrase is italics is incorrect. The Window is mildly broken, in terms of facilitating goals of play.

I have seen absolutely no evidence, direct claim, or even straight-up responsibility taken for the claim that The Window, as written and presented, facilitates a coherent mode of play.

All I've seen is a claim that The Window necessarily occupies/facilitates a mode of play that is not accounted for by GNS. Marco has stated that "everyone would agree" on this, which amuses me - that's the same "everyone" that gets referred to by any special-interest group who is trying to get its way.

I shrug. No argument to contend with means no need to engage in one.

That leaves us with these:
"... makes it sound like"
"a language thing"
reading "not necessarily" as sarcastic
adding puerile to "power struggle"

Marco, this stuff doesn't fly. You may read all the vicious bias and marginalization into others' words as you please, and shake your head in pained righteousness in response, but you have not identified any point of necessary outcome or contradiction to criticize.

"What it makes it sound like if you add words here and here ..." has no place in this discussion. You've already sent me suggested rewrites for the tone of the essay, and I've told you that they are under consideration. Hammering on that point, now, is wasting your time.

Best,
Ron

P.S. I have also seen some claims about Vanilla Narrativism that are grossly off the beam, which could legitimately be phrased as questions ("Hey, what does player story-power look like in VN?").
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Marco
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2002, 11:48:44 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Hello,

As the originator of these statements, I think I'll point out when they're being misquoted and misused.

"I've seen posts that say something is broken if you need house rules to play it. I've seen a post that says that The Window will need some house rules to play in a Narrativist Fashion or a Sim Fashion. I've seen posts that say The Window isn't broken. I think they were all from people in general agreement."

The phrase is italics is incorrect. The Window is mildly broken, in terms of facilitating goals of play.

I have seen absolutely no evidence, direct claim, or even straight-up responsibility taken for the claim that The Window, as written and presented, facilitates a coherent mode of play.

All I've seen is a claim that The Window necessarily occupies/facilitates a mode of play that is not accounted for by GNS. Marco has stated that "everyone would agree" on this, which amuses me - that's the same "everyone" that gets referred to by any special-interest group who is trying to get its way.


All I was suggesting with "everyone" that people would agree with is that describing The Window as a simulation was kind of weak (i.e. that it's not a very descriptive way to describe what it does). As in "Explorationist would be better."
Quote

That leaves us with these:
"... makes it sound like"
"a language thing"
reading "not necessarily" as sarcastic
adding puerile to "power struggle"

Marco, this stuff doesn't fly.
...


Okay. Maybe it's all in the way I'm reading it. I'll drop it. You did agree to look at your phraseology in the re-write, after all.

-Marco
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: January 19, 2002, 02:15:09 PM »

Marco,

Thanks for your open-mindedness and general approach to disagreement/debate. I appreciate it a lot, and I'll try to apply the same to all of your suggestions.

Best,
Ron
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Paganini
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« Reply #18 on: January 19, 2002, 08:54:37 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Quote

"I've seen posts that say something is broken if you need house rules to play it. I've seen a post that says that The Window will need some house rules to play in a Narrativist Fashion or a Sim Fashion. I've seen posts that say The Window isn't broken. I think they were all from people in general agreement."


The phrase is italics is incorrect. The Window is mildly broken, in terms of facilitating goals of play.

I have seen absolutely no evidence, direct claim, or even straight-up responsibility taken for the claim that The Window, as written and presented, facilitates a coherent mode of play.


Well, Ron, your statement that the Window is mildly broken etc. is presented as a flat fact. IMO, Logan and Marco have both demonstrated a contrary opinion... namely that the Window as writen is not broken at all.

Let me pose a hypothetical question for you that may help clear things up.

If a GM runs a game with the Window, using it exactly as printed with no alteration in text, no change in rules, follows all the directions, including the precepts, and so on, what game style are they playing in? Another way of putting this: if no drifting occurs in a game of the Window, what style is the group playing in? You're claiming that a group must neccesarily drift in order to play the Window. That means that there is no way to play the Window without drifting. I can see that such a statement would be a bit upsetting to people who play the Window without drifting at all. Unless you can show that those people are, in fact, drifting, and that it's impossible to play the Window without drifting, I don't think the feeling of "exclusion from GNS" is going to be resolved.
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #19 on: January 19, 2002, 09:50:09 PM »

Quote from: Paganini
Let me pose a hypothetical question for you that may help clear things up.

Snip.  Unless you can show that those people are, in fact, drifting, and that it's impossible to play the Window without drifting, I don't think the feeling of "exclusion from GNS" is going to be resolved.

This is a useless challenge.

You can't "show" anything about 'people' without seeing them actually play.  Whether or not they exist, this is like saying 'unless you can show that bigfoot does not walk through people's yards, he just has to exist.'  You can't show it wasn't bigfoot unless you're there.

Likewise, it's pointless to attack Ron on the "exclusion from GNS" issue because he hasn't excluded anything.

Let me put it this way.  Ron played the Window.  No matter how hard he tried to 'stay exactly as the printed material says,' he doesn't seem to have been able to make it work.  You played the Window.  You say you 'stayed exactly as the printed material says' and say it worked fine.  Two different opinions, no possible resolution.  The simplest explanation is that your definitions of 'worked' may be different.  So too could there be a difference in how you view 'stayed exactly as printed.'

Weren't you the one who said they'd played it over the internet or with no die rolling?  If that's the case, I can categorically state that you did not 'stay exactly as the printed material says.'  As described, the game is neither created with any concept of playing online, nor is avoiding dice 'staying exactly as the printed material says,' the printed material call for dice, you have failed in that regard.

This can be nothing more than an emotional reaction.  All you are doing is making useless (unrealistic) hypothetical charges based on highly-charged emotions.  You ask the impossible, and I expect when it isn't delivered will crow about being vindicated.

Get it: you can't show what other people do without directly observing them.  You can't prove something until you come to an accord on what terms like 'exactly as printed' and 'making it work' mean, which I don't think you have (if you think that online IRC play or diceless PBEM play both adheres to the rules and works flawlessly 'exactly as printed').  Besides, what are you trying to prove?  Ron hasn't excluded anything from anything.  Being 'mildly broken' (not such a high crime when you consider the number of man-years devoted to playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition) does not make it 'excluded.'  That makes it incoherent.  For that matter, why should all your gaming experiences have to fit in somebody else's taxonomy?  If you don't like it, make your own.

Anyway, give us all a break from this posturing and shouting.  Don't you have your own game, your own theories, and your own ideas to express?  Why bother reacting emotionally to someone else's opinion?  (Or worse, just their feelings?)  I suggest you take a short breather and consider what you want out of this discussion (instead of the all-hallowed proof, which is never possible on the internet anyway), and whether you'd be satisfied to agree to disagree.

Fang Langford

If you want a challenge, how about finding someone who actually played the window, "exactly as printed" first?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2002, 07:20:00 AM »

Hi there,

Paganini, Fang and I are in 100% agreement regarding the "proof" issue, and I will be happy to explain to you why using that term at all is contradictory to the task at hand, by private email. I do not have to "prove" anything to anyone - only to be consistent, to be fair, and (in sum) to make sense. None of the current discussion is about any attempt to change anyone's mind about anything, a concept which seems to elude the grasp of those who spend a lot of time in other forms of internet discourse.

I also agree with his assessment of your play of the game, relative to its text.

Let's get at the underlying concept of the discussion.

Your position, as I understand it, seems to assume that any game design "must be categorized" according to GNS, into some pocket or slot that it provides. This is not correct. GNS is about actual play decisions (by player/GM, ie, humans), and game design is a related, not definitive issue. If you have some image of me with a GNS-o-meter, passing it over stacks of game books and listening to it go "queep," then you're simply not following any aspect of the essay.

Best,
Ron
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Paganini
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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2002, 05:03:10 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

Your position, as I understand it, seems to assume that any game design "must be categorized" according to GNS, into some pocket or slot that it provides. This is not correct. GNS is about actual play decisions (by player/GM, ie, humans), and game design is a related, not definitive issue. If you have some image of me with a GNS-o-meter, passing it over stacks of game books and listening to it go "queep," then you're simply not following any aspect of the essay.


It's not my position exactly... I view myself more as an observer in this thread. But I do think I understand what Logan and Marco are saying, and I don't feel that you do. It's been my impression that you're claiming that the Window can't be played without drifting into one of the GNS boxes. I'm basing this post on that impression, so if I'm totally wrong, just ignore it. :)

I think that Logan and Marco feel that the Window will work perfectly well without alteration for a specific play style - a style that they're calling Dramatism, for lack of a better term. By insisting that a group using the Window must drift into one of the boxes, you're excluding the group who plays without drift. You're invalidating a style of play that is preferred by some, and I can see how that would bring a negative emotional response.

I think Fang is right: "You can't show what other people do without directly observing them." The claim that the Window can't be played without drifting is just such an unsupportable one, as far as I can tell.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2002, 07:55:40 PM »

Paganini wrote,
Quote
I think that Logan and Marco feel that the Window will work perfectly well without alteration for a specific play style - a style that they're calling Dramatism, for lack of a better term. By insisting that a group using the Window must drift into one of the boxes, you're excluding the group who plays without drift. You're invalidating a style of play that is preferred by some


A person is free to "feel" whatever they like, which has absolutely no impact on the argument without some kind of thinking basis.

That "specific play style" has no basis in existence except by a tautological relationship with The Window - "the game exists as written, hence people must play it as written, hence it must work fine as written for them." That is all I'm seeing. I, on the other hand, am using the evidence both of my play and others' testimony not only of The Window but of similar games as well - note, evidence to arrive at my conclusion, not as "evidence" in the sense of convincing you or anyone else.

Logan, to his credit, is apparently investigating this issue, which would seem to be the logical next step.

Best,
Ron
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2002, 10:51:58 PM »

To start,
Quote from: Marco

Yes, clear. Was I clear about the split between GNS and GDS?

Clear about the nature of the split.  I know (now) you don't mean to use that split as evidence for GDS being better than GNS (or vice versa), and it seems to me I've demonstrated (certainly to my mind) a rough equivalence to the "clarity" tradeoffs on both sides of the split, so . . .  understanding the split helps us understand:
1)Why the important differences between Ron-style-Narrative and GM-controlled-Metaplot "story" don't matter in GDS;  and
2)Why the intuitively (to some) inaccurate label of Simulation in GNS actually does fit some "story" focused games.

That sums it up for me . . . with the caveat that the little poking about in GDS I've done has NOT revealed a way to deal with the N-specific issues, whereas GNS does have an ability to deal with the non-N story stuff, if a bit awkwardly.

Now I'm going to do a some quote and respond on a few issues that seem important to me.
Quote from: Marco

a) More correctly GNS doesn't address Dramatist concerns (the Dramatist exists between S and N)

As my caveat would indicate, I don't agree with this statement - GNS can and does deal with D, BY the fact that it's between S and N.  My first candidate for "Top Ten Misunderstandings of GNS" is the notion that only entirely pure play of G, N or S is "good" - Ron's claim is that it best to have ultimate priority on one, but there's room for all elements in any play, and some folks seem to think that it could even work to prioritize different "big 3" at different times within one game.
Quote from: Marco

Under GNS simulationist applies to two modes of play:

a) those interested in simulating a reality--or exploring/experiencing play in one.
b) story-oriented simulationist play (where the GM is the story teller or the simulation is not one of a reality but of some sort of fiction). This also comprises character development (in the lit-sense, not the 17th level sense).

Your b) is (in GNS terms) just exploring/experiencing play in Situation or Character - which fits in your a).  I agree there's some awkwardness there . . . I'm not yet sure how big a deal that is for me.
Quote from: Marco

GDS doesn't tell you how to design a system. It does tell you what sorts of things a player might/might not like.

Unless you're an N, at which point it is insufficiently precise about Story to tell you what you might/might not like.
Quote from: Marco

[Aside] Most good S-GM's in my experience will, over the course of a multi-story-line game take into account what the players want and thus, with their input, create story-lines that suit them. I don't see a VN player having a lot of conflict with a S-GM who is also story-oriented in the sense that the GM wants to use a N-Premise theme, doesn't railroad (maybe frames excessively--but certainly keeps tabs on player frustration), etc. [/Aside]

And this, no doubt, is why you DON'T find D imprecise for N's.  I'd just assert that while you might be right for some N's (I may be one of 'em), you're not right for all of 'em.
Quote from: Marco

Right. Hardcore N-players (as opposed to VN who *might* be) have a very specific story-oriented view: specifically they want player-authorial mechanics or (failing that) a social contract where they get a lot of say in the story

And here you acknowledge that those folks exist.
Quote from: Marco

A few points:
1. the term creation of a likely meaningful story either requires specific mechanics or gets the game system declared broken (i.e. needing house rules) or at best drifty (which, implies it's weak if not actually broke).
2. again, the goal BY IT'S DEFINITION requires game-mechanics to execute properly.

hmm . . . isn't it true that ANY goal can only be excuted by game mechanics?  And that those mechanics can be as simple as "how to play" statements like the Three Precepts in The Window (warning - it's a long time since I read  The Window, and I've never played - there's a reason I've avoided discusing it on its' merits)?  So . . . if the Precepts in The Window simply said something about "a player's input to the story progress during play must be allowed" . . . don't your "conditions" for the "house rules" stuff and "driftyness" goes away?  Now, it is still possible to say the rules don't WELL serve the Narrativist goal - but that can (and has) been said about rules serving a Sim or Game goal.

Your criticism of the essay language - that's for Ron to deal with, mostly (and to which he has stated he will consider your input).  I'm glad you put the work into showing where it can be read  . . . "negatively".  I don't envy Ron the task of trying to phrase everything "just so" (and I defend his right to say "look, I covered this in the opening paragraph - DON'T be offended"), but I agree that an effort to avoid pointlessly confrontational language is good - and (IMO) some of the places you point to in the essay could use improvement in that regard, if only because people are notoriously sensitive.

I think that in this response, I've covered everything I can on this thread - certainly, I've gotten the perspective I was after with my inital post.  I'll re-skim the other responses (and any new ones that show up), but I must say - I'm pretty satisfied with where this stands.  Now watch, someone will post something that makes me eat those words . . .  like by an emphatic NO to one of the questions I ask above ;-).

Gordon
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Marco
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« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2002, 09:35:29 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

A person is free to "feel" whatever they like, which has absolutely no impact on the argument without some kind of thinking basis.


Hey Ron,
I just saw this and felt the need to point out that you're misunderstanding what's going on with "feel."

When he said "Marco feels ..." what he means is "Marco believes X and has made X, Y, and Z argument." When I read (past tense) you as biased (maybe I was having a bad day, maybe putting Deadlands in the 'horribly dysfunctional' block of games raised my ire) I "felt" you' were being deliverately confrontational.

That is, not being able to read your mind--and only your words, I concluded that you were somehow motivated to be confrontational to people who liked Deadlands, 7th Sea, VtM, etc. It isn't a "fluffy" emotional thing--it's reading the words and thinking "gee--there are at least a hundred other ways to say that--but 'moronic,' 'horribly dysfunctional,' 'deceptive,' etc. are all loaded word choices. They're all *emotional* word choices.  Specifically, they're angry. It occurred to me that I wouldn't tell a valued co-worker that his proposal was "incoherent," I'd say it was "inconsistent."

(This isn't just to be a nice guy. Inconsistent is no less correct than Incoherent here and being aware of incindary language makes it easier to clear things up if you ever do wrongfully jump down someone's throat.)

In the above quote you are writing off any statement with the word feel in it as meaningless fluff (note, a more correct and diplomatic way to say that--one that shows that I *can't* read your mind--is to say "you _seem_ to be wrting off" or "I _feel_ that you're writing off"--which is, in fact, the writer taking responsibility for his reading of what you wrote).

-Marco
[Edited for clarity. ]
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #25 on: February 05, 2002, 09:23:44 AM »

Marco,

I have little to add to Gordon's treatment of the "language" issue above, and what I've said previously.

Here is that little bit, then.

Either you accept that the language of the essay is undergoing review, or you don't. At this point, with every confirmation that the phrase "horribly dysfunctional" upsets you, I shrug. Be patient, have faith that you are being listened to, and also be aware that I am not you, and am not writing your essay.

As for "feel," I misunderstand nothing and I stand by my point. I do not accept, under any circumstance, that "I feel" can be a stand-in for "I think," or "I have considered," or "I propose that ..." Using "I feel" specifically and only means the absence of such reasoned responses. The same goes for "believe," which is perhaps the least relevant mental act imaginable for purposes of discourse.

This may upset you as well: When it comes to discourse among peers, I have neither respect for nor interest in what anyone feels or believes.

Obviously, such an outlook is not functional if we are talking about "friendly chat," or teaching, or any number of other activities. But here, we are talking about discourse - making sense. Feeling & belief are utterly unwelcome and useless in reference to supporting or validating points. (I acknowledge that passion is very important as a motivator of debate, but it has no place in proposing or resolving specific issues.)

Necessary clarification: nothing about my point justifies lack of courtesy. Saying, "I don't care how you feel about this point" is not the same as saying, "I can be a rude bastard to you." I do not advocate or permit the latter on the Forge.

Back to the point, if someone wants to propose or to resolve or to debate a concrete issue, they must put feeling and belief aside as mechanisms. Otherwise, it's not discourse and has no place at the Forge.

Best,
Ron
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