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Author Topic: Paradigm Shift - The X-Styles - The Truth Is Out There  (Read 821 times)
RobMuadib
Member

Posts: 230


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« on: January 24, 2002, 06:45:27 AM »

Morning all,

I went to bad last night after reading the Replacing Dramatism
thread, and one post in particlar, by Mytholder resonated for me,
indeed it spurred a paradigm shift, not suprisingly one
that better facillitated the concept behind my game
TMW:COTEC.

The relevant bit was:

Quote

My current position is that the RGFA threefold model is
the best of the three, and that "Narrativism" is a subset of Dramatism. It's
story-oriented with empowered players. There's a similar, unnamed state within
Simulationism, where players create sections of the world (y'know, PC#1 inherits
a castle, so the player maps the castle, creates some background etc.). I don't
know if a similar player-empowerment structure exists for Gamism - it might, but
the stricter balance required means this is iffy (the only example I can come up
with is players in a board game coming up with new rules on the fly, by
consensus.)


This was key to me, as much of my game revolves around redistributing the tools
of design and empowerment of the players in terms of Role. Upon further
reflection the idea of empowerment became a formative concept for my paradigm
shift. The major divide between reconciling the terms Dramatist and Narratavist
seemed to be predicated upon Empowerment. Specifically, Both Dramatist and
Narrativist were focused on Story, however, in Dramatism as described only one
player, traditionally the GM, is empowered to Guide the story, where is in
Narrativism, all players are empowered to Guide the story in some way.


So this led me to my paradigm shift, in which I reformulated the traditional
GNS(GDS/GEN) thinking to focus on this element of empowerment. Below I explain
my new thinking, in a rather rough form.

(A Caveat, this is not intented to piss Ron off or make him want to tear his
hair out if anything, this is my newish thinking leading me to meet my
design goals for TMW:COTEC, much like GNS enabled Ron to meet his design
goals for Sorcerer. Much of this is build upon Ron's work on GDS, which
was also built upon much of what came before it, being RGFA GDS, or
so I opine.)

So without further ado.


X-Styles - The Proof Is Out There

In my scheme, much as Rons, all of the phenomenon of RPG's is
is fundamentally about Exploration/Experience, or X as I
call it. (Computer Science has creeped in here alot as I have
been studying it to learn programming lately.)

So, RPGs exist as formal languages (much like computer programming
languages) with which the participants use to Explore/Experience
three fundamental goals -- Story (S), Game (G), and Role (R).

Story(S) being the traditional experience of telling a satisfying
story. (In RPG's we (can) tell a story, traditionally that
of our character's adventure. We entered the dungeon and
fought monsters, overcoming them to gain loot and become powerful.)

Game (G) being the traditional experience of engaging in a structured
competition or challenge.( In RPG's we (can) play a game, traditionally
one where we are able to pit the abilities of our character against
the challenges posed. We fought 3 orcs, avoided 2 traps, to get
all that gold.)

Role (R) being the traditional experience of interacting with a different reality.
(In RPGs we (can) interact with a different reality - the world -
by taking on the role of a character, traditionally we take on the role
of a Warrior/Mage/Thief/Priest in a fantastic world of magic and mediaveal
realities.)

These are the traditional goals/functions of "playing" role playing games.


Now, Role Playing Games as exist as complex Formal Languages whose myriad
terms, definitions,conventions, mechanics and procedures facillitate the
traditional functions of RPG. Much like Programming Languages are complex
formal languages whose myriad elements facillitate the functions of a
computer - sorting data, performing calculations, output/input, etc.

RPGs differs in the tools/functions they present to facillitate each of the
three goals S/G/R, and whom they empower to use these Tools/Functions.

Traditionally, most of the tools/functions have been reserved to the privileged
user known as the GM(DM). He is empowered to setup the program to tell a particular
story, or to control the parameters of a game, or to create the trappings of Roles.

That is, the GM defines the scenario to the players, he controls and sets the
opposition and challenges the players face, and traditionally he is given some
power to create the trappings of the reality explored by Role, in D&D these
would be things such as magic items, classes, races, and other such constructed
elements of the reality presented in the game.

Thus, in traditional role playing (or at least D&D), the GM is responsible for
shaping the Story which the other players experience/explore. This is the
classic Dramatist model. Now, newer games empower all of the users
to shape the story, which is the newer Narrativist model.

Also in Traditional RPGs (or at least D&D), it is the GM's Game, and he is the
final abitrator of what occurs. Only the GM gets to choose the opposition and
set up the scenarios the players compete against. In other games, all the
players are somewhat empowered to create challenges and other game elements for
the players, consider Rune in which the other players control and define the
opposition for each player.

Finally, in Traditional RPGs (or at least D&D), it is the GM's World,
and he gets to create everything. The GM creates the world, it's nations
and peoples, he can create monsters, or magic weapons, or potions or such. Now, newer games
say, Aria, all the players are empowered to take a hand in the creation of the
world and its elements. Meta-Design is employed in constructing the parameters
of the Role.


These empowerments map to stances fairly well.

STORY STANCES:
=====================================================
Actor - you roll with the story being presented by the
empowered player.

Author/Director/storyteller - these stances represent story based stances
of the empowered player, traditionally the GM.

GAME STANCES: ================================================================
Player- you are the guy playing the game/engaging the challenge
presented by the empowered player.

Game Master - this stances represent game based stances of the
empowered player, you adjucate the rules and set the parameters of the
challenges faced by the Player Role. Traditionally the GM

ROLE STANCES: ===============================================================

Character- you interactwith the situation,setting,world presented by the
empowered player. in the guise of your Character.

Creator/Designer - this stance represents the stance of the empowered player
he gets to design and create elements of the world to be experienced/
explored by the Character Role. Traditionally the GM has limited
creator and Designer powers, though meta-systems offer the players
more creator/designer power, Champions Power and Vehicle creation system,
Heavy Gears Vehicle Design systems, etc.


Ok, so there is the basic layout of my X-Styles Theory, I hope we
can have some more discussion on this. I believe it is sound because
it addresses the fundamental hangup presented by many people of
the Dramatist/Narratavist divide.

(Immersionists
demand strict adherence to the Character Stance, with no
Creator/Designer power, beyond possibly design of their character.
Further they limit their Actor Stance to IC/Character Knowledge, and
their Player Stance to Character goals - "not what I do to win, but
what would my character do against this challenge.)

Indeed playing with pre-generated characters is the strictest
possible instance of the character stance, as you are not empowered
to even create your character.

Anyway, I think this paradigm marks an interesting way to re-evaluate GNS
and re-associate some of the ideas presented in GDS/GNS/GEN.

Also, by addressing empowerment, it appears to allow for the accomodation of
slippier elements of IC/OOC, immersionist, etc. The least empowered stances
to the most empowered stances within a Style. The confusing thing is that you
operate with a stance within each Style at all times within the game,
though not always consciously.

I am looking forward to more discussion on this topic.

Rob Muadib.
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2002, 07:43:33 AM »

Interesting. I'm not sure how functional it is in, say, design application, yet, but it does seem to address things in a coherent fashion. One potential problem is that the "goals" (SGR) are not at all mutually exclusive, which may lead to certain problems. OTOH, perhaps that's a feature.

Also, this addresses the goals of play (GNS does not, really), but only focuses on some of the multitudinous possibilities. Forex, it does not mention the social aspect, or escapism.

Hmmm...

Mike
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RobMuadib
Member

Posts: 230


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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2002, 08:57:25 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

Interesting. I'm not sure how functional it is in, say, design application, yet, but it does seem to address things in a coherent fashion. One potential problem is that the "goals" (SGR) are not at all mutually exclusive, which may lead to certain problems. OTOH, perhaps that's a feature.

Also, this addresses the goals of play (GNS does not, really), but only focuses on some of the multitudinous possibilities. Forex, it does not mention the social aspect, or escapism.

Hmmm...

Mike


Mike

Well, one obvious conclusion for game design is that by choosing how you empower the players, (divvy up their roles) you either facillitate or discourage stances within a particular goal/function. It becomes an analysis of how the mechanics and guidelines of play support the stances within each function.

As for "goals" not being mutually exclusive, you are right, perhaps goals is poor choice, maybe Function is a better word. Since ideally all RPG's focus on the concurrent, I would posit, exploration/experience of the three Functions (Story, Game, Role.)

To restate, Role Playing Games are forms of entertainment whose entertainment value derives from the concurrent exploration/experience of telling a Story, playing a Game, and engaging in a Role.

RPGs then differ widely in the means they provide to engage these three types of experience/exploration and the means by which they empower the players to partake in these experiences/explorations.

As to fitting the aspects you mention. First, the Social factor. It occurs to me that the Social element is inherent it the most basic premise of our theory. That a Role Playing Game is an entertainment/game that can be engaged in by one or more people. This is similar to say chess, etc. The social factor enriches and makes the experience more dynamic by involving multiple participants in an interactive dynamic environment.

Thus, the idea that someone only plays an RPG to be with his friends, since he doesn't really like RPGing that much, could also be applied to say chess. He doesn't really like chess so much, but he likes palying a game against his friend. etc. To summarize, it is accounted for in first principles.

Now, the idea of escapism would seem to fall into a particular combination of stances among the three functions. With the emphasis being largely on Role, and the requirement/desire that the Player be empowered to effect the Story/Game/Role balance that meets the needs of his particular escapist desire.

anyway, thanks for your comments and input
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Rob Muadib --  Kwisatz Haderach Of Wild Muse Games
kwisatzhaderach@wildmusegames.com --   
"But How Can This Be? For He Is the Kwisatz Haderach!" --Alyia - Dune (The Movie - 1980)
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