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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 68 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: RPG Design Patterns  (Read 35789 times)
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #45 on: October 05, 2005, 05:24:09 AM »

John, I'm glad to be of use to you in such an important project. And, yes, yes, this "family" of Patterns might indeed be where Ritual fits in.

In response to Darren:

PTA's emphasis on collective brainstorming of characters, setting, etc. does seem like a very loose form of Structured Scenario. Perhaps the loosest form of this Pattern would be a rule that explicitly tells the players (and GM) "everyone sit down and think about these [#] things: [1], [2], [3]...." as in PTA; then My Life with Master and Dogs in the Vineyard would represent tighter and more structured manifestations of the same thing. But perhaps the degree of structure is simply too different in these cases? Perhaps PTA-style "Brainstorming" is a different (albeit related) Pattern altogether, just as Traits are a different Pattern from Skills?

Also, PTA's Issues/Story Arc mechanic does seem like a kind of Structured Story to me, albeit a very flexible one.

As for PTA's scene-framing rules -- hmm; that seems different from either Structured Story or structured scenario/backstory/situation/whatever. Perhaps having explicit rules for scene-framing is a Pattern unto itself? Of course, all games (that I know of) require some kind of scene-setting and scene-framing, but I've only seen explicit guidance and rules in the Forge games.
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #46 on: October 05, 2005, 10:40:44 AM »

Engel, too:
http://tinyurl.com/bve6g


That's OGL Engel, right? So, basically d20 structurally? I think what John needs is the Arcana rules, which were not included in the translated English edition. Feder&Schwert did release a translation of the Arcana rules as a free pdf, but I'm not having any luck finding it on their website.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
Darren Hill
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Posts: 861


« Reply #47 on: October 05, 2005, 11:11:16 AM »

About OGL Engel: Oops - I didn't notice that.
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John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 121


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« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2005, 07:21:56 PM »

I was able to obtain Castle Falkenstein.  Thanks.  I also ordered Prime Time Adventures.  I'd like to keep this thread from drifting into a linkfest, though.  So, please PM me with any further links to either Amber or the Arcana version of Engel.

In fact, I believe that the purpose of this thread has been very well served.  The excellent feedback I've gotten will keep me very busy for a long while.  Thank you all.

If someone has something more to say about RPG Design Patterns in general, I'd be happy to respond.  But I think any further discussion about Ritual, Structured Scenarios, or other specific design patterns should be split off into other threads.  If someone has the inspiration to do so, I'll jump into the discussion.

Thanks again!
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John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
oreso
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Posts: 67


« Reply #49 on: October 07, 2005, 02:41:55 AM »

its kinda hard to navigate to use practically, like as a tool kit for games design. It would helpful if you could supply some kind of categories for these patterns, meaning the problems that these solutions solve.

So, I'm Joe Designer and I want mechanics to help regulate what choices my players make (to put them more in line with the genre of the game or their character's described personalities or just to take the damn game seriously), so I look at:
"Behaviour: Alignment, Attendance Reward, Idiom, Narrative Reward, Structured Story"
and go look up those individual patterns and see what suits.
Later on I get so miffed at my players bad behaviour i research:
"Damage: Hit Points, Trauma Guage, Wound Trait"

I dunno how easy that would be to implement but it sure would be useful, especially as the list of patterns gets bigger and more wide-ranging.
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cjr533
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Posts: 25


« Reply #50 on: October 07, 2005, 05:11:11 PM »

Absolutely fascinating: I am reading through the patterms, and thinking about Conlicted Guage Surely the 12 binary oppositions which form Personality Traits in the rpg system Pendragon (1985) by Greg Stafford are fine examples of this?  It's interesting how often Pendragon's many unique (for the time) design patterms like modelling Relationships as well as other attributes are over looked.

I shall comment on the whole book once I have completed reading it, but enjoyibng what I have seen so far.

cj x
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Montola
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Posts: 36


« Reply #51 on: October 13, 2005, 11:28:06 PM »

Hmm, I haven't read this book yet, but at a quick browse I concluded that the approach is quite similar to Game Design Patterns approach advocated by Staffan Björk and Jussi Holopainen. Their main collection of game design patterns has been published recently as a book, containing some 300 or 500 patterns -- including such as "role-playing" and "character".

I read the book a couple of months ago.  You can imagine my nervous anticipation as I waited for Amazon to ship it to me.  Yes, the approaches are similar but attack the problem from different angles.  Their book mainly focuses on computer games, although some of it is applicable to tabletop RPG's and other games as well.  I counted 166 patterns, actually.  My book focuses on tabletop RPGs, although some of it is applicable to computer RPG's as well.  I'm trying to keep the number of patterns down to less than 50.  The primary difference, though, is that most of their patterns are more abstract than mine.  (As you say, "roleplaying" is a pattern in their book.)  Perhaps because of their more abstract thrust, they omit the "Samples" section that I feel is vital to convey how a pattern is used in practice.  And, it's probably why the book contains no diagrams.  Even so, I'm sure it is quite useful in computer game design and promises to give game programmers a well-defined terminology.

You are correct about the abstractness and meticulousness of Björk & Holopainen approach. It happens to be that I work in a project where theirs is one of the used approaches, and after a year I still can't speak patternese with them. (Not that I'd tried really hard, either). But their game design patterns list is intended to be "universal", not limited to digital games.

(About the number of the patterns, there are more on the CD, and even more that are unpublished -- I hear that the publisher cut a lot of them out, which is probably a good thing considering even the limited collection's hard approachability.)

Once I'll get the time to read yours, I'll be back about it.
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RenjiKage
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« Reply #52 on: October 20, 2005, 05:58:57 PM »

Great Work! I stumbled across your book yesterday and I had to download it at once!

I have just read 20 or so pages, but I keeps me so enthralled I don't want to work right now (although I should!).

I am designing an rpg-system by myself (sorry, only in german so far) and I will reconsider my set of rules by reading this book.

I am a student of computer science (with focus on software engineering), so the idea to transfer knowledge from software engineering to rpg-engineering was a thought I had before, too. But I focused more on software-engineering-like project management (because my system consists of a core rule book and projects which enhance the core rules). I highly appreciate your work and I will try to contribute when I read your book. ^__^
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Ten hours of trial-and-error can save five minutes of manual reading!
oliof
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Harald Wagener - Zurich, Switzerland


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« Reply #53 on: November 14, 2005, 12:50:36 AM »

I found a copy of the enflish arcana rules here:

http://www.birdsgate.de/federgalerie/Extras/ArkanaRulesUS.zip

Regards,
    Harald
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John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #54 on: November 16, 2005, 08:18:29 PM »

its kinda hard to navigate to use practically, like as a tool kit for games design. It would helpful if you could supply some kind of categories for these patterns, meaning the problems that these solutions solve.

So, I'm Joe Designer and I want mechanics to help regulate what choices my players make (to put them more in line with the genre of the game or their character's described personalities or just to take the damn game seriously), so I look at:
"Behaviour: Alignment, Attendance Reward, Idiom, Narrative Reward, Structured Story"
and go look up those individual patterns and see what suits.
Later on I get so miffed at my players bad behaviour i research:
"Damage: Hit Points, Trauma Guage, Wound Trait"

I dunno how easy that would be to implement but it sure would be useful, especially as the list of patterns gets bigger and more wide-ranging.

I used to have all of the various monsters in Legendary Quest in a single book with the beasts divided out into sections of the various cultures from which they originated: Celtic, Greek, Slavonic, etc.  Being a folklore nut myself, I personally had no difficulty in finding what I needed when I needed it.  (For example, I almost instinctively knew that a Vodyany was a Slavonic water faery.)  But, my playtesters often grew frustrated because they didn't know which category/culture in which a particular monster was placed.  I don't know how many times they complained about that one bad decision.  They often knew the name of the thing, but had no clue about its origins.  What they wanted was a simple alphabetical list of all of the monsters so they didn't have to go digging though a Table of Contents or Index to find what they were seeking.

The Gang of Four design patterns are separated out into various categories: Creational, Structural, and Behavioral.  Like my LQ playtesters, I personally don't think of the GoF patterns in terms of these categories.  I just know all of the patterns by name and would prefer to look them up alphabetically.  Because of my experience with the various monster categories I created for LQ, I tend to think of design pattern categories as an example of over-categorization that gets in the way more than it helps.

But, I could be wrong.  Perhaps most people would find design pattern categories to be useful.  I have been criticized more than once concerning my "flat" list of patterns.  Does anyone have suggestions for a small set of categories that covers the entire breadth of patterns which helps convey their utility?  Or, do you think most people would prefer a simple alphabetical list?

I found a copy of the enflish arcana rules here:

http://www.birdsgate.de/federgalerie/Extras/ArkanaRulesUS.zip

Thanks for the link.  I'll take a look at it.
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John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #55 on: November 17, 2005, 05:47:36 AM »

Does anyone have suggestions for a small set of categories that covers the entire breadth of patterns which helps convey their utility?

I'd suggest "Character Generation," "Task/Conflict Resolution," and "Scenario/Setting/Situation Generation" (the last category having very few examples in it and being underdeveloped), as I've ranted before. I think the division reflects the way most gamers are used to seeing rules presented, although in practice you'd have to cross-reference extensively.
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Kesher
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Posts: 174


« Reply #56 on: November 17, 2005, 07:02:49 AM »

John,

I'd certainly find categories useful in reading and referencing the book, with patterns alphabetized within each category.  I haven't finished reading the text yet, but Sydney's categories seem to cover what I've seen so far.  If you combine this with an index, you'd pretty much cover all your bases.

As a side note, the "Setting/Scenario/Situation Generation" idea, pattern-wise, is an interesting idea; it seems to me that it's really only in the indie-game world that that aspect of games has become hard-wired into the rules themselves.  I gotta hurry up and finish reading...

btw, as many have said elswhere in this thread, thanks so much for this book!  I'm a big fan of Christopher Alexander, and have wondered if his ideas could be applied to gaming somehow (though I was always thinking of System...)  You've certainly shown that they can!

Aaron
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Shimeran
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Posts: 4


« Reply #57 on: November 17, 2005, 08:10:39 AM »

The pdf was definately interesting.  I've made a few collections of rules ideas in the past but never really formalized them.  It would be great if game designers could go to a page or pull up a document and have a layout of common questions and solutions.  This file definately puts us a lot closer to that.

As far as categories go, you may want to start with something for general components.  For example, gauges, traits, and skills are pretty general items that can be used in character creation as well as conflict resolution.

Alternately, you can simply choose one scheme, whether alphabetic or categorical, and povided lists elsewhere to support other schemes.  I agree a list on common topics with names of applicable elements would be useful.  That way you can more quickly consider the options that relate to what your working on.  The experimental types could also use this to avoid common patterns and come up with something a bit different.

Donjon has an interesting story structure.  All adventurers start in "town" (an area of safety).  From there the party enters the "dungeon" (adventure areas).  The party is free to roam around this area and do pretty much what ever they want.  However, they won't pass into the next area until they finish all the checkpoints in the area.  These checkpoints are events and areas that  the gm can introduce at any time.  I'll have to check and see if this structure has been broken down in the patterns document, but it is part of the game rules.

Btw, thanks for the welcome in the alignment thread, John.  I forgot to thank you on my last reply there as I got so focused on breaking down alignment.
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #58 on: November 17, 2005, 09:51:51 AM »

Not to make more work for you, but a taxonomical structuring might be more practical in many ways. You would have to devise the taxonomy, of course, but doing so might make the book more useful.

By this I mean something like "These things are all A's. An A is defined thus. The AA is an A distinguished by A; the AB is also an A, but different from the AA thus."

It would also give clearer definitions of the various elements, although it would require you to make some arguable choices--e.g., what you think is an A influenced by B someone else would label a B influenced by A--but if you think it through you should be able to devise a workable taxonomy.

This is very theoretical on my part, I must say.  I've downloaded the file and two of the proposed revisions, but as yet have not had time to unzip it.

--M. J. Young
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Sydney Freedberg
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« Reply #59 on: November 17, 2005, 09:56:21 AM »

the "Setting/Scenario/Situation Generation" idea, pattern-wise, is an interesting idea; it seems to me that it's really only in the indie-game world that that aspect of games has become hard-wired into the rules themselves.

Donjon has an interesting story structure.  All adventurers start in "town" (an area of safety).  From there the party enters the "dungeon" (adventure areas).  The party is free to roam around this area and do pretty much what ever they want.

Aha. But "provision yourself in Town, then wander at will around the Dungeon/Wilderness" is the oldest, best-established "story structure" in all of roleplaying: It's classic, hard-core, tournament-ready Dungeons & Dragons, before people decided that "dungeoncrawls" were juvenile and began trying to create "epic adventures" with actual plots (i.e., in most cases, railroads).

I know I said earlier, like Kesher, that explicit "scenario generation" mechanics are an Indie novelty, embodied in various ways of drawing up 1) "relationship maps": 1a) by extracting the backstory from a published novel or film (first found, to my knowledge, in Ron Edwards, Sorcerer's Soul); 1b) by collaboratively drawing up the r-map as a group endeavour (Seth Ben-Ezra, Legends of Alyria); or 1c) by following a step-by-step series of "town creation" rules (Vincent Baker, Dogs in the Vineyard). (Whether these three techniques are full Patterns in themselves, with the product, i.e. a "relationship map," constituting yet another Pattern, or whether they're all variations of one pattern, I couldn't say).

But implicit "scenario generation" systems, when I think about it, are as old as the hobby, with (2) published "dungeon modules" in Dungeons & Dragons being the obvious example. (2') Random elements (wandering monsters, rolling to see the contents of a room, etc.) are either a sub-Pattern or a related Pattern, since they're rarely used without any pre-planned material at all, if only a blank map.

Arguably, the (3) "epic" linear plot, aka railroading, is also an established Pattern -- I won't even call it an "anti-pattern," because it's only disfunctional if the players want to choose the direction of the story, and a railroad is lots of fun if you're along for the ride -- with (3') "trailblazing" as identified by John Kim and others probably constituting a sub-Pattern.

Trying to taxonimize all this (cladistics!), as M.J. Young suggests, would be worthy but difficult.
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