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Author Topic: More on 3D Model  (Read 24490 times)
John Kim
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« on: August 26, 2004, 02:39:01 PM »

OK, I want to talk more on Mike's 3D model, which I think is quite good.  To review the basic formulation he made:
Quote from: Mike Holmes
    [*]CD - Player Challenge goal with Decentralized control (Great Ork Gods - thanks for the example, Sean)
    [*]CC - Player Challenge goal with Centralized control (D&D)
    [*]TD - Thematic goal with Decentralized control (Sorcerer)
    [*]TC - Thematic goal with Centralized control (Pendragon)
    [*]ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design - at best, GURPS and such might be played this way without problem)
    [*]IC - Immersion goal with Centralized control (CoC) [/list:u]

    There was debate as to whether "I" should be "Immersion" or "Internal Causality".  There was also an issue with comedy games.  Mike suggested that although it was slightly non-intuitive, comedy properly belonged with "Theme" as a goal.  Also, as a matter of semantics, I hate the two-letter acronyms like "IC" and "TC".  I think it'll be a lot more readable to say "Theme/Centralized" or at least "Theme/Cen".  

    I'm not sure what to do with comedy or for that matter genre.  Should we classify a player-directed comedy game as Theme/Decentralized -- which puts it in the same bucket as Sorcerer?  Now, some people consider Soap to be Narrativist, which would be a point towards this.  On the other hand, maybe there should be a fourth goal, which might be called something like "Entertainment".  This would be the goal of having a fun/diverting plot even if it doesn't have a consistent moral theme.  

    This also comes up in the question of whether "Immersion" or "Internal Causality" is a goal.  Offhand, I would say that internal causality is a technique, not a goal.  Immersion could be, in the sense of conveying the feel of person, places, or things.  We could also phrase this as  representation, or the vividness of portrayal.  This doesn't require internal cauality.  That still leaves the position of internal causality murky in the scheme (i.e. it is defined as a technique potentially usable for any goal).  I'd be interested in any comments on that.  

    An added observation:  it occurs to me that player-directed (aka decentralized) Gamism is in a sense more strategic.  In contrast, GM-directed (aka centralized) Gamism is more tactical -- i.e. the GM presents a specific problem and the players deal with it, then the GM takes control again and brings it to another encounter / tactical challenge.  

    As for relation to GNS...

    So of these, Immersion/Centralized has generally been considered GNS Simulationism.  Theme/Centralized has also been considered GNS Simulationism.  Theme/Decentralized has generally been labelled GNS Narrativism.  Expanding Mike's earlier diagram:
    Code:
                 ----Theme-----Immersion---Challenge--
                  _____________________________________
                  |           |           |           |
    Decentralized |  GNS Nar  |   Mixed   |  GNS Gam  |
                  |___________|___________|___________|
                  |           |           |           |
    Centralized   |  GNS Sim  |  GNS Sim  |  GNS Gam  |
                  |___________|___________|___________|

    Note that I label Immersion/Decentralized as "mixed".  I think that these regularly get classified differently by different people, or more likely just ignored.  The term "Open Sim" has been used, but it seemed like (for example) discussion of my Water-Uphill-World campaign went back and forth regularly between GNS categories.  

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    I'm not persuaded that the categories you propose really align with the existing categories the way you suggest. As Ralph says, control is not the difference between narrativism and simulationism; it's only symptomatic of the difference historically.

    I'm not quite sure what you're saying here.  Are you saying that centralized, GM-controlled Narrativism is possible, just that it hasn't happened historically?  My impression is that it is inherent -- i.e. by definition, you cannot have Narrativism with centralized GM control.  If so, then centrality of control is at least one inherent difference between GNS Sim and GNS Nar.  

    Quote from: M. J. Young
      As I understand it, Ron introduced GNS (in about 1998, in System Does Matter then at Gaming Outpost) specifically as his understanding of the distinctions created in Threefold. He changed the name of "Dramatism" to "Narrativism" (because of Tweet's prior use of "Drama" as a resolution method, which might be confusing). GDS seemed to be about what players were doing when they played; GNS in some sense suggested that what they were doing implied something about why they were doing it--that is, there was something they wanted to get from the game that was different from what someone else wanted to get from the game that caused the difference in how they played.  

    And here's where I think that Mike's model is getting somewhere.  
      It distills out that someone can be playing for "Theme" which is a common feature -- but distinguishes between Theme/Centralized and Immersion/Centralized.  i.e. Someone who really wants theme in their games I think has a different why than someone who is looking for background.
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    Alan
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    « Reply #1 on: August 26, 2004, 03:10:41 PM »

    I'm going to quibble on the choice of the term "thematic goal."  

    Theme is a murky word and I am guilty of letting it slip in when discussion GNS theory.  However, I am constantly reminded in those discussion that theme is not the goal of play in games such as sorcerer.

    To quote myself:

    Quote

    Theme is not the premise, the value standard or the consequences. Theme emerges from a series of events that address a value standard in various situations and from various perspectives. In an rpg, theme may be produced by a series of events which address premise. I think of it as the byproduct of the real activity.


    The real goal of Sorcerer it to _play_ those moments when the confluence of character, setting, situation, and some kind of value standard come together - to make a decision in that confluence that has consequences.  

    As theme is in fact a conglomeration of many events, it is not the goal, merely the side effect.

    I'd suggest a term like "Value Standard Decision Point," but of course that takes away your pairing of Pendragon and Sorcerer.   Not having played Pendragon, I can't say if the goal it supports best is the illustration of theme or something else.
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    John Kim
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    « Reply #2 on: August 26, 2004, 03:38:31 PM »

    Quote from: Alan
    The real goal of Sorcerer it to _play_ those moments when the confluence of character, setting, situation, and some kind of value standard come together - to make a decision in that confluence that has consequences.  

    As theme is in fact a conglomeration of many events, it is not the goal, merely the side effect.

    I'd suggest a term like "Value Standard Decision Point," but of course that takes away your pairing of Pendragon and Sorcerer.   Not having played Pendragon, I can't say if the goal it supports best is the illustration of theme or something else.

    I agree that "goal" is not a great word for Theme/Immersion/Challenge, but I think the model admirably fits what you're talking about.  In 3D terms, your goal is not Theme, but rather Theme/Decentralized.  i.e. Just one or the other aren't sufficient -- you need to have both.  The advantage of this is that it explicitly distinguishes decentralization / empowerment -- i.e. the desire to _play_ rather than just have happen.  Under GNS, empowerment is an issue for Narrativists, but not for GNS Simulationists or Gamists.  

    A tricky part is how to name the individual axes.  If we agree that "Theme/Decentralized" is a goal, then what do we call the individual parts.  I think "area of focus" or something like that might be good.
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    « Reply #3 on: August 26, 2004, 03:45:30 PM »

    Hm.  How do you mean decentralized?  If we're talking about some kkind of decentralized version of lumpley system, - in the sense that "everyone has some GM power," then I disagree.  Sorcerer (and TROS and Hero Quest) don't require this.  TROS is a good example: it provides the Spiritual Attributes for the player's input, but centralizes much of system with the Seneschal.

    So what does decentralized mean?
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    clehrich
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    « Reply #4 on: August 26, 2004, 06:13:22 PM »

    I'll go back and read the original thread, which I skipped while away, but out of interest it seems to me that ID does exist.  In fact, I think you (John) and I were both in a game that ran that way: the Immortals thing.  Maybe you could explain that in terms meaningful to the list?  I sure as hell can't.  Also, I haven't read it, but isn't something like Munchausen more or less ID?

    Anyway, back to the discussion....
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    Chris Lehrich
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    « Reply #5 on: August 26, 2004, 06:55:45 PM »

    A comment and a question:

    Comment: I agree with John on the naming--using short names instead of two-letter abbreviations is an improvement both for us and others.

    Question (For Mike, John, anyone). I played a game this weekend that I'm working to place (I had a talk with the GM about the model and dicision making mode).

    Does the 3D model define only a goal for one player? Or describe a play-session which may contain elements from multiple players (I would think this is the case)? Here is some analysis of the game I played this weekend (I'll have a write up some time):

    1. I was playing with Immersion as a goal. I expected my input to only, ever, be blocked by internal-cause reasons (I expected that if there was to be a "point" of the game and I diverged from it in a situation-consistent way that diverge I would). Would this be Immer/Dec?

    2. While the GM ran the game from (to my observation) what was about 80-90% an internal-cause perspective, I know that he constructed the initial situation in a particuarly specific way to embed themes and employed rare but extant dramatic timing or dramatic events in maybe four cases (over about 24 hours of play).

    None of these timing cases circumscribed PC actions (one was badguys showing up after we'd completed a task, one was an off-screen death of a PC we'd interacted with--which was notable in that it brought closure to that part of the storyline in a satisfying dramatic way, one was an attack on the PC's location announcing itself by the enemy making a mistake).

    Would this be Theme/Dec?

    This meant that the play, because of the situation, did have extant themes that unfolded over the course of play (and some very, very tough moral decisions--which were asthetically pleasing to me and brought key enjoyment to the GM)--but they were not sought out as a focus by the players (i.e. we didn't seek those challenges, did not create them, had significant stretches of play where there weren't thematic moral issues in focus--especially in the begining, etc.)

    So I would say that my goal was Immersion/Dist, the GM catered to that but had some Theme/Dec goals as well.

    I would tentatively put it in Mixed.

    Am I reading this right?

    -Marco
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    Tobias
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    « Reply #6 on: August 27, 2004, 12:11:49 AM »

    Quote from: John Kim
    OK, I want to talk more on Mike's 3D model, which I think is quite good.  To review the basic formulation he made:
    Quote from: Mike Holmes
      [*]ID - Immersion goal with Decentralized control (No game that I can think of specifically has this as part of the design - at best, GURPS and such might be played this way without problem)
      [/list:u]



      Say you're playing a wargame with miniatures with 3 players (3 armies) and no referee. Would that be an ID example - or would the centralized ruleset (the book) cause it to be Immersion/Centralised?

      Of course, a wargame isn't neccesarily a RPG...
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      Jack Aidley
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      « Reply #7 on: August 27, 2004, 04:27:18 AM »

      One thing though: Why is this being refered to as the '3d Model' when it only has two dimension (theme/immersion/challenge and centralised/decentralised)?
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      Alan
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      « Reply #8 on: August 27, 2004, 06:18:26 AM »

      I was just reading the original thread.

      I think I now accept the idea of centralized vs decentralized play.  I do have a few comments:

      1) Just an observation: the power (or influence) distribution scale is a measure of technique.  So unlike Creative Agenda descriptions, which speaks purely about observable player goals, the 3d model pairs player goal with technique.  This will produce it's own limitations, but may well be a useful analytical tool.

      2) Associating a particular Creative Agenda with a box on the 3d matrix, must be seen as saying: "This is how the agenda is best supported."  Because, while the techniques used in play affect the rate of satisfaction, they are not required for the existance of an agenda.

      3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

      4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.
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      « Reply #9 on: August 27, 2004, 10:24:52 AM »

      Quote from: Alan

      3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

      4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.


      I'm not sure of the evolution here, but I think that discussion of theme led from a distaste for "story as a goal." (for some very good reasons).

      Mike said (and I have a lot of sympathy for this) that Address of Premise boils down, in some sense to emotional involvement of the player plus empowerment over the focus of that emotional involvement (i.e. the ability of choice on an emotional issue).

      Whether or not this is literally or definitionally true of Narrativism (can someone "address premise" while exhibiting or feeling no emotional reaction? I would think so.) it's not, IMO, a bad way to encompass the usage. Narrativism is supposed to be games that have significant meaning to the player on an emotional level where the player is has the status of co-author.

      That makes me think that there are two very different approaches to Narrativist play in practice (and Vincent and Nathan hit on them in the Author-Actor Stances thread).

      In the case of a person who plays in Author Stance and is very cognizant of he statement he or she is making through play then creation of theme sounds like a pretty good description of the goal of play to me.

      In the case of a person who plays in Actor Stance then, IMO, creation of theme is a less useful description.

      -Marco
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      « Reply #10 on: August 27, 2004, 10:30:41 AM »

      Quote from: Marco
      Mike said (and I have a lot of sympathy for this) that Address of Premise boils down, in some sense to emotional involvement of the player plus empowerment over the focus of that emotional involvement (i.e. the ability of choice on an emotional issue).


      I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.
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      John Kim
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      « Reply #11 on: August 27, 2004, 10:31:53 AM »

      Well, I don't claim any authority over what "the 3D model really is", but I'll try to express what makes sense to me.  And I agree that "3D" is a misnomer, but I think it works fine as a label for the moment.  

      As I see it, Centralized and Decentralized refers to degree of control over the game's outcomes.  This is a subjective judgement, of course -- and there is vagueness of "control of what".  I would say the question is whether players have control over the focus of the game: i.e. Theme, Challenge, or Immersion.  That is, in Challenge/Decentralized, the players have high control over what sort of challenges they will be facing.  

      To Chris Lehrich:
      I'm not sure about the immortals game -- meaning our rotating-GM, modified Theatrix game set between 1100 and the present, with PCs Pyutz, Harkel, Odysseus, and Leminkainen.  While we rotated the GM position, each adventure was primarily directed by the GM-of-the-week (in my opinion).  To my mind, this has more in common with Centralized, but it's an interesting issue for the centrality distinction.  

      To Marco:
      I agree that "mixed" or "hybrid" sounds reasonable for the game as you describe it.  

      To Tobias:
      Yes, I agree that a wargame with no referee would be Decentralized, though it seems likely to have Challenge as a focus rather than Immersion.  Actually, I think that freeform LARPs (in the Australian sense) are a good example of Immersion/Decentralized.  Here "freeform" means that there is no defined plot and the organizers don't step in to keep things on track.  Rather, things happen spontaneously as a result of player actions.  

      To Alan:
      Quote from: Alan
      3) I still object to the use of the word "theme" being associated with narraivist play.  As I said before, illustrating theme is not the goal of narrativist play, it is an incidental result of a series of premise addressing events, like chaff from threshing.  People are mistaking the value standard, which gives meaning to each decision event, for theme.  These are not the same.

      4) I do however, agree that certain simulationist play can have theme as its goal.  It can also have story structure as a goal.  And you're right, these will be in the hands of a GM- centralized power.

      I'm not sure how substansive the #3 is.  Is this based on a Forge-specific definition for the term "theme" -- or is it more general?  I'm not familiar with the term "value standard".  It isn't part of Ron's Narrativist essays, at least.  Do you think there are games which focus on things considered "theme", and in which the players are empowered to determine that, but which are not Narrativist?
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      « Reply #12 on: August 27, 2004, 10:35:20 AM »

      Quote from: Alan

      I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


      I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

      -Marco
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      « Reply #13 on: August 27, 2004, 10:40:26 AM »

      Quote from: Marco
      Quote from: Alan

      I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


      I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

      -Marco


      Ah, but my actions may make a statement, but my object is the emotional charge of the act, not the content that results.  The content produces the frisson, but is not the objective of it.
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      Marco
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      « Reply #14 on: August 27, 2004, 10:54:12 AM »

      Quote from: Alan
      Quote from: Marco
      Quote from: Alan

      I would agree that addressing a premise boils down to a choice made about something the player feels strongly about.  But such a choice is neither theme nor story.  Again, if one uses the words like story or theme for this, one is mistaking a side product for the events that create it.


      I think the question that determines if that's a good word is based on whether the player sees his or her actions as making a statement. If that is the case, then I don't think the terms theme or story are mistakenly used.

      -Marco


      Ah, but my actions may make a statement, but my object is the emotional charge of the act, not the content that results.  The content produces the frisson, but is not the objective of it.


      If you read Nathan's Author vs. Actor stance thread on Narrativism, there are two separate things.

      1. The player who's objective is to make a statement.
      2. The player who's objective is to experience emotional impact.

      As I said, I think both fit under the present Narrativist banner (assuming the player has some investment in his statement, yes)--but to say that a guy who goes "Thugar The Barbarian lowers his weapon, refusing to strike, proving, yet again that mercy is stronger than hatred" is not creating theme or isn't answering premise (assuming other relevant conditons are met) seems to me to be ignoring something.

      -Marco
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