*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
November 01, 2014, 01:52:32 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 61 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5
Print
Author Topic: RPG Design Patterns  (Read 35885 times)
J. Tuomas Harviainen
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #15 on: September 28, 2005, 10:51:04 PM »

We should also be aware that a game may try to satisfy the design goal of creating intensity in some fashion entirely unrelated to Ritual.

The core question is on whether a game is designed to create a liminoid (or, according to some game-as-ritual theorists, even liminal) state or not. If it is, that would be a Ritual Design Pattern, very distinct from other forms of intensity.

-Jiituomas

Logged

gsoylent
Member

Posts: 62


« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2005, 12:08:27 AM »

First of all, great work. I mean it!

As for feedback, here goes. Make what you will of it.


1. Why not, for each game, get some feedback from the actual fans on the question "Why does the game work for you?" You could post "Why does Rifts work for you?" on a Rift forum, "Why does CoC work?" on the CoC forum. ron thge responses you can than select the most telling ones.

The reason I suggest this is that, while I perfectly understand you not wanting to make subjective value judgements on specific games, the analysis of each game seems to lack a bit of punch, some sort of final verdict. So the reader just sees the theory but does not get any feel for how this works in practice.


2. This may seem a strange thing to say, given the context, but I thought it was a bit odd that there were so many "Forge" games in the list in the draft. Oaky, in a way I can understand this choice. There is so much more innovation real design work going on in the new indie game world compared to the often very conservative, even derivative, world of mainstream rpgs (not much point looking in detail at 30 different D&D clones), but it just feels a bit partisan, not very representative. Maybe you can add a few more mainstream games to your anaylsis. Games like Amber, Castle Falkenstien, Over the Edge and Feng Shui all had some pretty unique design ideas to disucss. And no, I am not just plugging "my personal favorites" (Amber is the only one of those I've played extensively, and that was a long time ago).

3. I do echo the previous remark that the tone swaps from technical to informal far too often.
Logged
J. Tuomas Harviainen
Member

Posts: 127


« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2005, 12:27:12 AM »

The reason I suggest this is that, while I perfectly understand you not wanting to make subjective value judgements on specific games, the analysis of each game seems to lack a bit of punch, some sort of final verdict. So the reader just sees the theory but does not get any feel for how this works in practice.

I thought that was one of its clear strengths! It's descriptive but has no value statements, nothing that could be seen as a quality hierarchy. That way it'll face less subjective criticism, and will be treated as the useful technical manual that it essentially is. So I for one recommend /not/ asking for player feedback.
Logged

Jack Aidley
Member

Posts: 488


WWW
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2005, 01:28:46 AM »

OK, I've read up to about page 70, and flicked through the descriptions of games (paying close attention, obviously, to Great Ork Gods). And I've a few comments on what I've read so far:

1. To echo J. Tuomas, the tone does oscilate seemingly randomly from dryly academic to jovial and chatty. This isn't entirely a bad thing - the Gang of Four's Design Pattern book is one of the most turgid and unreadable books I've come accross, whereas your work is eminently readable. While it's important you don't lose the technical manual feel of it, it's also important that it remains readable.

2. I found some of the comments overly subjective and judgemental, in places stating that a different approach would be better rather than simply enumerated strengths and weaknesses. I think you should avoid this kind of comment in the Pattern descriptions.

3. You don't seem to me to have met your own criteria for identifying patterns. In particular you don't seem to have stuck to only having positive design features. Also, a few of the patterns seem out of place (Anonymous rule comes under both these objections).

But these are really just picking the nits, great work.
Logged

- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter
John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 121


WWW
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2005, 06:30:57 AM »

1. Why not, for each game, get some feedback from the actual fans on the question "Why does the game work for you?" You could post "Why does Rifts work for you?" on a Rift forum, "Why does CoC work?" on the CoC forum. ron thge responses you can than select the most telling ones.

The reason I suggest this is that, while I perfectly understand you not wanting to make subjective value judgements on specific games, the analysis of each game seems to lack a bit of punch, some sort of final verdict. So the reader just sees the theory but does not get any feel for how this works in practice.

2. This may seem a strange thing to say, given the context, but I thought it was a bit odd that there were so many "Forge" games in the list in the draft. Oaky, in a way I can understand this choice. There is so much more innovation real design work going on in the new indie game world compared to the often very conservative, even derivative, world of mainstream rpgs (not much point looking in detail at 30 different D&D clones), but it just feels a bit partisan, not very representative. Maybe you can add a few more mainstream games to your anaylsis. Games like Amber, Castle Falkenstien, Over the Edge and Feng Shui all had some pretty unique design ideas to disucss. And no, I am not just plugging "my personal favorites" (Amber is the only one of those I've played extensively, and that was a long time ago).

3. I do echo the previous remark that the tone swaps from technical to informal far too often.

1.  As J. Tuomas Harviainen points out, I really want to avoid value judgements to circumvent needless arguments over who's game is "better".  Also, the point of the book is not the Game Summaries, but rather the Design Patterns.  The Game Summaries exist merely to provide source material and support to the patterns.  Insomuch as the summaries do that, I feel satisfied that value judgements are unnecessary.  If the consensus ends up being that they do not meet this goal, then I will have to add something further to them.

2. You are correct in your assessment.  The main reason for having so many Indie games is that I wanted to obtain the highest Design Patterns to Game Summary ratio as possible.  If there are some more traditional mainstream games that would allow me to add more important patterns to the catalogue, I'm all for including them.  My actual starting point was Mike's Standard Rant #1: Designers! Know your hobby!.  I had a hard time finding some of the games on the list.  So, I ended up replacing some with others.  Mike gave me the "thumbs up" on the list I finally ended up with in terms of it covering a wide spectrum of ideas. 

3. I will obviously have to work on that.

2. I found some of the comments overly subjective and judgemental, in places stating that a different approach would be better rather than simply enumerated strengths and weaknesses. I think you should avoid this kind of comment in the Pattern descriptions.

3. You don't seem to me to have met your own criteria for identifying patterns. In particular you don't seem to have stuck to only having positive design features. Also, a few of the patterns seem out of place (Anonymous rule comes under both these objections).

That's not nitpicking at all.  Those are absolutely truthful statements that are important.  Those instances you mention are one of the main reasons I want to get feedback.  If you'll notice, there is a Design Anti-patterns section in the book that is entirely devoid of any anti-patterns.  I absolutely refuse to label anything as an anti-pattern before discussing it, though.  Obviously somebody thought it was a good idea at some point or they wouldn't have included it in their game.  The problem is, I have been having a hard time justifying some of the patterns.  I want to get feedback on those helping me to either justify the pattern as being appropriate in certain circumstances or verifying that those patterns are, indeed, anti-patterns.

Again, thanks for the feedback!
Logged

John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
Adam Dray
Member

Posts: 676


WWW
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2005, 09:25:01 AM »

This is a remarkable document. It goes beyond cataloging and really gets at the heart and soul of the patterns. I am impressed with your insight into the implementation challenges each pattern presents.

I won't repeat what others have said but I agree with most of their comments.

In addition, I think the book would benefit from a cross-index for pattern aliases. I went looking to find "conflict resolution" and it took me a while to discover it as an "also known as" for one of the types of contests.

The gauge diagrams remind me much of systems thinking models. I like your diagramming conventions but find it a little hard to know at a glance what is an add relationship and what is a subtract relationship. Check out the web site (especially Gene's introduction) and consider using some of his diagramming conventions. At the least, consider those ideas about reinforcing loops and balancing loops and what they mean to game design.

Again, an amazing feat of analysis and writing. Its use will be a part of my game design process for years to come.
Logged

Adam Dray / adam@legendary.org
Verge -- cyberpunk role-playing on the brink
FoundryMUSH - indie chat and play at foundry.legendary.org 7777
Marco
Member

Posts: 1741


WWW
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2005, 10:48:53 AM »

Bravo!

This is exactly the sort of bottom-up approach that's been lacking. I think this sort of analysis is what will produce real, fruitful RPG theory with potentially predictive results.

Good job!

-Marco
Logged

---------------------------------------------
JAGS (Just Another Gaming System)
a free, high-quality, universal system at:
http://www.jagsrpg.org
Just Released: JAGS Wonderland
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2005, 11:12:32 AM »

It's interesting to me that the Gang of Four weren't interested in analyzing why projects fail, because damn if that isn't what I'm most interested in seeing now, some comparison between successful and unsuccessful games with similar macro-level architectures of patterns. (For instance, I'd love to see the architecture of The Last Exodus compared to a "successful" game with a similar architecture.)

John, or someone, can you convince me why I shouldn't care?

Paul
Logged

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
tj333
Member

Posts: 76


« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2005, 05:53:31 PM »

The only thing that I really noted that was missing form this was different dice mechanics.
In the appendix you mention the die pools, margins of success, and similar so the book is not completely lacking in such but I can see reason for more detail either in this book or another to give a run down on dice mechanics.

Aside from that small complaint this is a wonderful resource here and a very interesting read (I finished the day you posted it myself.).

The review of the game systems at the end is really helpful for people who have not played those games before and have been told to check them out.
Logged

John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 121


WWW
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2005, 09:35:51 PM »

The gauge diagrams remind me much of systems thinking models. I like your diagramming conventions but find it a little hard to know at a glance what is an add relationship and what is a subtract relationship. Check out the web site (especially Gene's introduction) and consider using some of his diagramming conventions. At the least, consider those ideas about reinforcing loops and balancing loops and what they mean to game design.

Well, I'll be damned.  Folks, that is a significant website.  In addition to the pages Adam listed, look at Archetypes.

If anyone can identify two role-playing games using one of the patterns mentioned on that page, please let me know.  (Hell, let me know if you can find even one.)  That is, let me know of any of the listed patterns other than the Balancing Loop and Reinforcing Loops, which I see already appear in games included the Game Summaries.  Resource is actually a simple form of Balancing Loop.  And, Sorcerer and TORG include Reinforcing Loops.  I am going to have to look closer at those.

If nobody can come up with any games following those patterns, then write one.  Please.  That's a golden opportunity for a unique game engine.

Now, I do have some criticisms of the diagramming technique used on the site.  I believe those criticisms will help explain why I designed Gauge Diagrams like I did, so I don't think it is too far off topic:

1) Originally, I decorated arrows with "+" and "-" like Gene Bellinger does.  That is a problem because the decorations end up cluttering large diagrams making them hard to read.  Take a look at the Priority Gauge diagram or many of the large Game Summary diagrams and imagine a "+" or "-" next to each arrow.  It gets real ugly real fast, especially when multiple arrows point to a single gauge.  Essentially, the diagram must be stretched out to keep the visual clutter down, so less fits on a page.  Also, "+" and "-" decorations unnecessarily bias the reader into thinking about addition and subtraction, which is only one way that gauges can interact.  (See the Gauge pattern for others.)

2) Gene makes the assumption in his diagrams that large values are "good" and small values are "bad".  For the problem domain he is addressing, that may be true (I didn't read deeply enough yet to know).  But, for RPG's in general, that is incorrect.  Not only are small numbers sometimes preferable to large ones, but sometimes a single gauge value is both good and bad (see the Conflicted Gauge pattern).  That's why I use various filled and open circles to represent gauges of various types.

3) Using color in a diagramming technique means the diagramming technique is hard to use.  I learned this from Grady Booch, one of the primary inventors of UML, which is the most successful diagramming technique used in the software industry today.  The reason is simple.  A person needs to be able to use a diagramming technique with nothing but pencil and paper.  That way, he can scribble something down on the back of an envelope while riding a bus to work.  So, a diagramming technique should use only black and white.

It's interesting to me that the Gang of Four weren't interested in analyzing why projects fail, because damn if that isn't what I'm most interested in seeing now, some comparison between successful and unsuccessful games with similar macro-level architectures of patterns. (For instance, I'd love to see the architecture of The Last Exodus compared to a "successful" game with a similar architecture.)

John, or someone, can you convince me why I shouldn't care?

You should care about why games fail.  The Gang of Four weren't interested in failure, but that doesn't make it unimportant.  It's just hard to analyze, because there are a whole lot more ways to make a game (or anything else) fail than there are to make it succeed.  Failing is easy to accomplish.  Succeeding is difficult.  Leaving the study of failure untouched allowed others to step in and conduct that research, though.  That is what anti-patterns are all about.  Identifying patterns that are in common usage that just don't cut the mustard.  I am fully expecting some of the Design Patterns listed in the book (and others we write up in the future) to be identified as anti-patterns.  I'm just not willing to unilaterally call them anti-patterns.  Also, I think that in focusing on successful games, we will learn about both success and failure.  Studying successful games will eventually teach us important causes of why games fail.  The reason is that very few games (if any) do everything perfectly.

tj333, 

Yes, I need to cover dice mechanics.  Unfortunately, the muse of dice mechanics writing has not yet landed on my keyboard.  I'll probably get around to it eventually.  I just haven't thought of much interesting to say about the topic yet.

.
Logged

John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
tj333
Member

Posts: 76


« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2005, 10:48:04 PM »

tj333, 

Yes, I need to cover dice mechanics.  Unfortunately, the muse of dice mechanics writing has not yet landed on my keyboard.  I'll probably get around to it eventually.  I just haven't thought of much interesting to say about the topic yet.

Would you be willing to have me do some of the work on die mechanics? It would probably take me near a month to get something at the level of you work.
Also no promises on end product but I would be willing to give it a try if you are willing to take th chance.

Itís just with your work and some of the other things I have been looking at I want to try and contribute something somewhere.
Logged

gsoylent
Member

Posts: 62


« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2005, 10:50:56 PM »

John Kim did a very food overview of a whole range of dice methods used in rpgs. Have a look at http://www.darkshire.net/%7Ejhkim/rpg/systemdesign/dice-motive.html
Logged
Bill_White
Member

Posts: 202


WWW
« Reply #27 on: September 30, 2005, 07:26:40 AM »

Three comments: 

(1) I have been making my way through "Design Patterns" and think it's a great piece of work.  I've begun to try to map out the design on my own current project; I already recognize some "anonymous rules" that deserve splitting out.  So it's at the very minimum a useful heuristic device.  Thanks, John.

(2) Another emergent pattern to keep your eye on could be called the "Tarot" pattern.  This is where a card-draw gauge informs a fuzzy gauge of some kind.  In plain English, a card is drawn and its "meaning" (perhaps with an intervening table look-up) is used to shape the in-game situation in some way.  Recent implementations include Chris Lehrich's Shadows in the Fog and Jason Morningstar's Shab-al-Hiri Roach.  In the former, interpretation of Tarot cards by the players maps on to magical events or mystical confluences in the game-world.  In the latter, the card a player draws is read to determine the sort of action his or her character will take (and the card is read differently depending on whether or not the character is possessed by the game's eponymous insect).  AD&D's Deck of Many Things may be the earliest implementation of this pattern.  The DM would present players with a deck cards from which they could choose to draw up to three cards; the various cards caused different circumstances to occur in-game (e.g., lose all of your treasure, inherit a small keep, have a trusted henchman turn against you, etc.).  Like the "Ritual" pattern discussed above, we may see more of this sort of thing in the future.

(3) Minor typo fix:  Call Mike Holmes's prefatory remarks a "Foreword."

Bill
Logged
Kynn
Member

Posts: 27


« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2005, 05:21:01 PM »

I'm reading through this now. One of the only things I haven't liked is when your editorial tone -- "this is a stupid idea", in effect -- comes through.  Rather than examining the pluses and minuses of certain ways of doing things, there are several sections which just seem outright dismissive.  Perhaps because Alignment came first in alphabetical order this stands out more.

The other thing that was a bit of an annoyance was an over-reliance on referencing pretty obscure games, most of which are from Forge contributors. It seems to limit the discussion a lot when half of the games are relative unknowns, and almost seems like you're mentioning/praising them to either advertise them or curry favor.
Logged
John Kirk
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 121


WWW
« Reply #29 on: October 01, 2005, 02:25:28 PM »

tj333,

I appreciate the enthusiasm.  You actually do not need to ask my permission since I have already given it via the Creative Commons License under which I released the book.  Since a lengthy explanation of what is allowable and what is not does not directly relate to the topic of this thread, I split those issues out into another thread here.

By the way, do you have a name?  It is somewhat disconcerting to speak to a couple of initials and a number, although my employer has the opposite opinion.

Three comments:

(1) I have been making my way through "Design Patterns" and think it's a great piece of work. I've begun to try to map out the design on my own current project; I already recognize some "anonymous rules" that deserve splitting out. So it's at the very minimum a useful heuristic device. Thanks, John.

(2) Another emergent pattern to keep your eye on could be called the "Tarot" pattern. This is where a card-draw gauge informs a fuzzy gauge of some kind. In plain English, a card is drawn and its "meaning" (perhaps with an intervening table look-up) is used to shape the in-game situation in some way. Recent implementations include Chris Lehrich's Shadows in the Fog and Jason Morningstar's Shab-al-Hiri Roach. In the former, interpretation of Tarot cards by the players maps on to magical events or mystical confluences in the game-world. In the latter, the card a player draws is read to determine the sort of action his or her character will take (and the card is read differently depending on whether or not the character is possessed by the game's eponymous insect). AD&D's Deck of Many Things may be the earliest implementation of this pattern. The DM would present players with a deck cards from which they could choose to draw up to three cards; the various cards caused different circumstances to occur in-game (e.g., lose all of your treasure, inherit a small keep, have a trusted henchman turn against you, etc.). Like the "Ritual" pattern discussed above, we may see more of this sort of thing in the future.

(3) Minor typo fix: Call Mike Holmes's prefatory remarks a "Foreword."

Bill

I'm glad you have been able to make some use of it.

The Tarot pattern sounds interesting.  I just downloaded both of the games you mentioned.  I'll take a look at them when I get the chance.

I'm reading through this now. One of the only things I haven't liked is when your editorial tone -- "this is a stupid idea", in effect -- comes through. Rather than examining the pluses and minuses of certain ways of doing things, there are several sections which just seem outright dismissive. Perhaps because Alignment came first in alphabetical order this stands out more.

Your comment about Alignment is quite valid.  Despite the fact that my own game, Legendary Quest, is alignment based, I had a hard time justifying the pattern.  Discussion of that specific pattern's merits is outside the scope of this thread, though.  So, I split that topic out into a separate thread "Is Alignment an Anti-pattern?".  I would appreciate any insights you could give me on that question.

The other thing that was a bit of an annoyance was an over-reliance on referencing pretty obscure games, most of which are from Forge contributors. It seems to limit the discussion a lot when half of the games are relative unknowns, and almost seems like you're mentioning/praising them to either advertise them or curry favor.

Well, I wouldn't personally call it an "over-reliance", really.  Approximately 1/3 of the games are Indie games.  The other 2/3 are mainstream.  (To be exact, 11 of the 30 games are indie.)  As stated before, my goal was to get a broad overview of a lot of different games, both cutting-edge and traditional.  Some of them require multiple volumes, some are complete in only a single rule-book, and some can fit on a single page.  Some are purchased.  Some are free.  Some are narrative.  Some are gamist.  Some are fortune-based, some are karma-based, and some are drama-based.  It's really not an easy thing to cover the whole spectrum, and I'm sure I've missed a number of important games.  In time, I hope to correct that.  But, that all requires time and effort and I figured it was time to get something out there for feedback.

Others have mentioned that my praise for some of the games needs to be toned down.  So, I'll have to work on that.  When I saw something I thought was cool, sometimes I made the mistake of saying so.  If I've given the impression that I'm somehow doing this to advertise games, let me assure you that I am obtaining no financial returns for including any game in my study.  And, if advertising was a primary goal, surely I would have included my own games in there somewhere.

Thanks for your input.
Logged

John Kirk

Check out Legendary Quest.  It's free!
Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!