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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 76 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Wiki-based game design  (Read 4621 times)
jknevitt
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Posts: 73

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« on: December 14, 2004, 08:17:54 PM »

Okay, I had a crazy idea.

You (the hypothetical you-reading-this-post you) set up a wiki, and state a basic framework of a setting (trad fantasy, tribal, hard sci-fi, modern horror etc.). You set a cut-off date (say, a month) and then you just let people post. Whatever's there in a month is the setting. If you're lucky, you might have rules too.

This could end up one of two ways;

1) It could be a god-awful mess, an absolute horror that should never see the light of day
2) Something very interesting -- a true group-effort setting.

Thoughts?
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James Knevitt
John Kim
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2004, 09:40:29 PM »

Quote from: jknevitt
You (the hypothetical you-reading-this-post you) set up a wiki, and state a basic framework of a setting (trad fantasy, tribal, hard sci-fi, modern horror etc.). You set a cut-off date (say, a month) and then you just let people post. Whatever's there in a month is the setting. If you're lucky, you might have rules too.

You might want to look at http://www.gamegrene.com/wiki/Category:Lexicon">Neel Krishnaswami's "Lexicon: an RPG", which is an RPG design specifically intended to be played out on a wiki.  The page I linked to earlier includes a directory of several existing games.  This has pretty specific rules about when and how you can post, so it's rather different from the random posting.  

There are actually quite a lot of fairly freeform play-by-post RPGs.  For examples, you can browse the "online" keyword at my Free RPG List: http://www.darkshire.net/~jhkim/rpg/freerpgs/bykeyword/online.html
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- John
timfire
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2004, 11:58:42 PM »

Quote from: jknevitt
1) It could be a god-awful mess, an absolute horror that should never see the light of day
2) Something very interesting -- a true group-effort setting.

Maybe I'm cynical, but I think you would end up with the former. The issue you get with mass group projects is that you get competing visions for what the end product should look like. Practically speaking, you need some sort of point man to guide the process and make sure there aren't any holes, and to make arbitrations over competing visions.

Anyway, you really need to check out his link: Group design of a RPG - right here. That thread is all about a group design project. It even sparked a group project that you can check out in the Indie Design forum: [GroupDesign: Schrodinger's War].
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--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Trevis Martin
Member

Posts: 499


« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2004, 12:43:46 AM »

My game Revisionist History, currently in development, is also specifically intended for wiki play.  

Though if you are only interested in setting creation and not gameplay itself, I highly suggest lexicon.  There are even links to several lexicon games that have played out already.  Pretty cool IMO.

I should also mention Universalis, specifically the Universalis Arena  While it is pretty quiet right now a fair chunk of setting has been developed for it.

I think Lexicon, Uni and to a lesser extent RH prove that it is possible to do this.  There is a form of arbitration in tokens spent, and a challenge mechanic.  For lexicon there is no challenging of entries at all just a specific requirement for referral.

best,

Trevis
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Gelasma
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2004, 03:40:12 PM »

Wikis are a great tool for World Design. A setting grows the same way a wiki does, into breath and into depth. Development ist best started at some point, say for example a capital city. You put up a page about that Town and create, yet unused links to its neighbouring towns, country and continent holding that city, the races and cultures in that area and so on. Users can easly add new components to the setting, either by creating a page from one of the unused links or by themselves adding new pages and links themselves. Its absolutly okey to start a new page with a paragraph or even only a single sentence. Later an other user will add more content, and thereby give the setting more depth.

One of the great advantages of a wiki is, that you dont need any other communications tools to manage the concurrent world building. No mailing lists and sending word document back and forth, the wiki is both at the same time: communication medium and documentation medium. It even documents the whole evolution of your development process; and the 'recent changes' page helps staying up to date and reviewing the work of your co-authers.

My group uses a wiki to develop our own game world called "nuevo narravo": Nuevo Narravo Wiki (in german). Our wiki is about two years old, and consists of over 220 pages. If you have any further questions about our experience, just feel free to ask.
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neelk
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2004, 10:37:21 AM »

Quote from: Gelasma

One of the great advantages of a wiki is, that you dont need any other communications tools to manage the concurrent world building. No mailing lists and sending word document back and forth, the wiki is both at the same time: communication medium and documentation medium. It even documents the whole evolution of your development process; and the 'recent changes' page helps staying up to date and reviewing the work of your co-authers.


This is so absolutely true. I've maintained websites for tabletop games, and Wiki is so much better for this purpose it's not funny. The basic problem with a regular website is that only one person can edit it, and that means that the people who don't have access don't think of it as "theirs". But with a wiki, anyone can edit it, so it's much easier to stay up to date -- anyone can post character journals, maintain current versions of the character sheet, and record funny quotes from the game session.
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Neel Krishnaswami
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2004, 12:57:54 PM »

To be truthful, the idea for playing Universalis by Wiki came to me when working on a collaborative world design via Wiki. I was dissapointed by the "conflicting views" thing, and that there was no way to resolve this.

That said, there's something about how Uni and Wikis work together that hasn't been quite as inspiring as I thought it would be. With the latest version, I think it might be that I pushed too much for automation that doesn't really make stuff all that simpler.

So if what you want is just worldbuilding, I think a very simple Universalis with no storytelling, and just building, is what you want. Or something like that thingamajig that Ed Heil was working on before.

Mike
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Vaxalon
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Posts: 1619


« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2004, 01:26:48 PM »

Check out SKEIN (in my sig) for more wiki-based gaming goodness.
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"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
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neelk
Member

Posts: 126


« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2004, 01:59:59 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
To be truthful, the idea for playing Universalis by Wiki came to me when working on a collaborative world design via Wiki. I was dissapointed by the "conflicting views" thing, and that there was no way to resolve this.


Can you explain this problem in more detail?

When I did Lexicon, my goal was to make intertwingling the different players' ideas mandatory. I had seen a number of mult-author game supplements in which the work on the different chapters didn't refer to each other at all, and as a result it lacked artistic cohesion. So, with Lexicon, my goal was to make sure that everyone playing had to play with other peoples' ideas. So, I prohibited contradicting other peoples' accounts, and then made referring to them mandatory. That way, each player necessarily has to engage with the ideas of the other participants.

This was an idea that was way more successful than I expected, but it isn't perfect.The main strategic weakness of the Lexicon approach IMO is that a lexicon will usually get as silly as the most comically-minded author's material. Sometimes this is okay (for example, in Nobilis, the juxtaposition of the comic and the horrific is perfect for the genre), but other times the playes will want to maintain a more uniformly serious tone. I don't really know how to do that in a bottom-up way, without creating "authority figures" who have the power to pass judgement on other peoples' work.

In Chris Engle's Matrix game, the way he solves this problem is by divorcing the role of judge and author. The moderator of a Matrix game can pass judgement on the credibility of an argument, but cannot create any improvisations himself. That way, the moderator doesn't have ultimate power over what the players, because he or she can't compel them to make up any particular argument. Matrix games have a lively play-by-email culture, but I don't know how to transplant that to a wiki format.

Also, I think there's probably something very clever you can do if the participants all meet face-to-face, too, by using the social dynamics of real people meeting in real space to inform the online play, but I don't have anything concrete beyond this suspicion.
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Neel Krishnaswami
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2004, 02:37:22 PM »

To get to the crux of the problem, the "seriousness" issue, Universalis handles this by having "tenets" set up in the beginning. These are metagame considerations in many cases, and can easily cover ensuring a certain tone.

What it comes down to, is that your system doesn't, if I'm not mistaken, have a "challenge" mechanism. Sans an authority, like you point out in your matrix example, you only get your linkage, and no quality control.

How about this? For every ten "creations" a player makes, he gets one Veto. He can use this to get rid of any "offensive" entry in the game. Vetoes can cancel other vetoes. At the start of the game, you discuss the tone that you'd like the game to have, and then everybody enforces this by either using Vetoes, or threatening to use Vetoes.

What happens is that the vetoes don't often have to be used. Instead people are informed that they may have to get involved in messy legal wrangling if they don't conform to the community standards. The more people play successfully, the more vetoes they pile up, and the more "mass" they have behind them as a force of authority. Any newb that comes along and makes a mockery of things can easily be vetoed out of existence. Only non-vetoed entries count for getting your own vetoes, so you can't really become a participant without playing in a way acceptable to the community.

How's that? It sounds draconian putting in measures like this, but they're neccessary in a game with shared power.

Mike
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The_Nomad
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2004, 10:05:10 AM »

When they were developing the new Paranoia XP, Greg Costikyan and Allen Varney used a wiki, using Lexicon. Apparently it went pretty well - Allen said "The project succeeded beyond my wildest hopes. The Lexicon game produced the largest stable of talented writers Paranoia has ever enjoyed."

I wandered around it at a couple of points, and it is indeed a resounding recommendation for the wiki style of game.

I know that there are or have been several Lexicon Nobilis games run too.
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Hugh "Nomad" Hancock

"My name was Mike. His name is Bob."
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