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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 71 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: one player's quest to recapture the table-top RPG experience...  (Read 20268 times)
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2005, 11:42:25 AM »

The article got me thinking about how when our contracts were successful for those few sessions, it was because the DM was able to manage each player's activity informally during individual "turn" instances. This guy doesn't seem like he lacks leadership skills. I'm thinking he might have pulled it off if the game had simply been turn based.

Interesting.  It sounds like a stressful way to play though, with lots of opportunities for social conflict.

Assuming I'm understanding what you mean.  Do you mean that the turn/round structure gives the GM the opportunity to reinforce (overtly? covertly?) the manifesto between each instance of player action/choice?  Whereas in this game he only gets that power at the beginning of play or when he explicitly takes it?  And all that space inbetween is then reinforced by the rewards system?

Hmmm... I'm not sure about that.
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- Cruciel
Andrew Cooper
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2005, 12:08:10 PM »

Jason,

I'm pretty certain that in a game like Neverwinter Nights, the reward system inherent to the system is much more powerful than anything the GM can enforce.  The GM isn't there and can't possibly maintain control of where everyone is going or what they are doing. The programmed reward system interacts with me far more than the GM does, even if he's juiced up on sugar and caffiene.

Not to get too far off topic but I think where our friend really messed up was not altering the reward system into something that supported what he really wanted.  In NWN's it is perfectly possible to turn off all XP for killing things.  You can also make the deer indestructable.  If he had simple turned off the XP for killing things and only given out XP for reaching certain Plot Points or completing certain Quests and had told the other players he had done this, then they probably would have behaved more in line with what he wanted.  After all, they killed things because there was something to easily gain from the action.  No reward means no incentive to act.  If the reward is attached to another action, that's proabably where the players are going to spend their time.

I think the poor fellow's problem is that he discovered the hard way that good, focused game design (or scenario design) isn't easy and that designing things like that for the computer medium isn't the same as designing for tabletop.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2005, 03:14:45 PM »

Hello,

Jason, you wrote,

Quote
... I think where our friend really messed up was not altering the reward system into something that supported what he really wanted.

My response: Ummm ... yes. But isn't that where we came in? Reward systems strongly, strongly influence value systems. That seems very basic to me. I'm having the weird sensation that I posted in the discussion from a (perceived) shared starting point, and now you're stating it as the conclusion.

Paul, I also need clarification about the "turns" thing. I think what you're saying is that at the tabletop, with a construction as this guy has presented, people might not go Gamist because he can use a social reward system of approval and disapproval, or even selective listening or ignoring of certain announcements, as a way of not permitting stuff that doesn't work for him into the SIS. Which is correct, although once people catch onto this approach, and if the mechanics-reward is very clear and strong (and offers Gamist meat), then their ability to fight back is both effective and terrifying.

With the computer, what amounts to a dysfunctional one-man vetting of the SIS that has some chance to work for a while, has no chance to work at all.

Best,
Ron

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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2005, 05:52:30 PM »

I think that's Andrew's quote, Ron. :)

I'll refer to that quote as well. At a very simplistic level, a game system sprinkles you with rewards for actually doing what you like doing as a player. But changing the reward that is sprinkled for a certain behaviour, doesn't mean the players will automatically start liking that behaviour. It's like if the players came to play cricket, but you change the rewards so football behaviour is rewarded instead. They may indeed like football as well, and play heartily. At the other end, they may hate football, rewards be damned!

But the terrible middleground is, that they may be quite capable of enjoying football, but they decided to play cricket. That's it. Football rewards be damned, even though they like football. Their here for a game of cricket!

It's at that point that you can't try to influence them with rewards. You just have to come out and say what you want as GM/as a player. This guy didn't. I'd like to lay the boot into immersion, for why he may not have. But from my personal history, I think that even immersion is a red herring. One might hide ones desires 'for the sake of immersion' because one is terribly afraid that if one says what one wants, one might suddenly realise that all these dear, close friends of yours have absolutely no interest in what you like. The friends that stop you from feeling alone in this world, don't share your desire. And suddenly your absolutely alone. Because the people you felt such close ties to, have absolutely no ties to what you care about (game wise). And thus they have no ties to you (in relation to that). It's scary to suddenly discover where friendship ends. Particularly if what you care about is part of your core element. And let's face it, if you care about it, it probably is part of your core. And if its part of the core of you, you then have to wonder how much their not friends, just acquaintances. And in regards to that, how alone you are in the world.

Well, either that or you can keep pushing for the perfect session of roleplay, without saying what that perfect session is!


On another note, I like how the GM isn't able to vet anything. It didn't work out here, but it shows a way you can provoke another player if you can change things around on the game board. If you need group consensus to change the board, then you'll never seriously provoke someone else. Never provoke them in a negative way, which many groups think is a must. And never provoke them in a possitive way, which many groups don't realise can be done.
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Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2005, 10:20:10 PM »

I'm pretty certain that in a game like Neverwinter Nights, the reward system inherent to the system is much more powerful than anything the GM can enforce.  The GM isn't there and can't possibly maintain control of where everyone is going or what they are doing. The programmed reward system interacts with me far more than the GM does, even if he's juiced up on sugar and caffiene.

I agree.  What I'm not sure about is how Paul sees turn structured roleplaying as able to overcome that.
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- Cruciel
contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2005, 01:22:24 AM »

Maybe I'm just perverse but I laughed out loud while reading this article.  It played out almost exactly as I had expected such an attempt would unfold.  In many ways the problems, I think, are inherent to the generic system, but at a second level I agree that the medium is broken for TTRPG exprience.

XP for killing deer should have been turned off.  The PvP flag should have been turned off.  Both of these rules - actually existing system - had consequences that were outside the scope of design.  In the case of the deer, attaching the deer to the druid was kinda cunning but then the possibility of players killing the deer for whatever reason should have been accomodated.  The PVP choice was made in the name of "realism" but what realism did it seek to achieve?  Precisely that of the unacceptable result, a player character death.  Both of these decisions established a framework in which a single mistake killed the game as a whole.

Paul, I also need clarification about the "turns" thing. I think what you're saying is that at the tabletop, with a construction as this guy has presented, people might not go Gamist because he can use a social reward system of approval and disapproval, or even selective listening or ignoring of certain announcements, as a way of not permitting stuff that doesn't work for him into the SIS. Which is correct, although once people catch onto this approach, and if the mechanics-reward is very clear and strong (and offers Gamist meat), then their ability to fight back is both effective and terrifying.

I mostly agree with this.  We had the "diagetic gatekeeper" proposal some time ago which you may recall I favoured.  I think that while system/reward errors were made, the importance of the physical presence of the GM, and the performance activities of the physically present GM, are in general under-discussed.  Taking the deer thing, a physically present GM could easily have asked "do you really want nto do that" in a tone of voice that indicated disaproval.  Or with the umber hulk, a GM in control of what the players see, when they see it etc, can ensure/allow for the players to come upon a scene of the umber hulk snacking on the beetles first.
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GB Steve
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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2005, 02:08:16 AM »

Maybe. What the article got me thinking about was how old school tabletop D&D is effectively a turn-based game. The need to get the DM's attention functions as a bottleneck.
When 3e arrived one of our players held the book in one hand and the character generation software in the other and asked if one was the manual for the computer game that was the other.

Could it be that 3e is now just a marketing tool for what is the lion's share of sales, the CCRPG? Rapprochement of the systems makes this easier. But, just because the system is similar, it seems rather strange to think that the outcome would be identical.

The NN system has much in common with LARPs (or freeforms, your vocab may vary) in that it's simultaneous and you can't hope to control the players once you release them into the game, except possibly through a reward system that focuses on the kind of game you are hoping to deliver. In tabletop GM control can be easier to establish given that players mostly affect the SIS through the intermediary of the GM.

My wife and I have written and run a few LARPs and the system I created is designed to reduce the need for referee intervention whilst rewarding keeping to the theme of the game.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #22 on: August 22, 2005, 08:54:48 AM »

Hey Ron,

Paul, I also need clarification about the "turns" thing. I think what you're saying is...

Yep, that's what I was saying. And also Gareth's subsequent expansion.

Paul

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Larry L.
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Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2005, 06:33:21 AM »

I did some module development for NWN before I came to the conclusion that, while it's a fun Diablo-style game (with D&D color) in its own right, it just doesn't support anything like tabletop gaming. The set of tools provided are good for killing monsters, gaining skills and loot, and doling out scripted plot. In this respect, it is successful. As a TTRPG... well, it could be used to model zilchplay, I guess.

I don't think the Big Model is useful for MUDs and RPGs. They're socially much different, and have different goals. That said, I do see the problem that video game designers trying to "bring the tabletop experience to the PC" fundamentally don't have any understanding of RPG theory. But hey, that's true of many published TTRPGs.

And (GB) Steve, one of the stated design goals behind 3e was indeed making mechanics which were more easily adaptable to video games.
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