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Author Topic: The Secret of Sim  (Read 29798 times)
MatrixGamer
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« Reply #45 on: November 17, 2005, 02:06:07 PM »

The mechanical question of how to design a Simulationist game comes back to a question of what people think simulates a world.

On one extreme we have Historical re-enactors - who want to be hit by swords, shot at by cannon, and taste the dirt in their coffee. Obviously for them, simulation is living it.

Simulation can be done with an analog. So I build my world in a sandbox pour water on it and roll marbles to knock little men over. The miniature scale is not living it for real but does conform to some of the physical laws of the full scale.

Simulation can be an algorithm. So I know from years of observation that the outcomes are X plus or minus Y. I apply a normal curve to it and feel like I understand what I'm looking at.

Role play games and miniatures games almost always fall in the last group.

Exactly what is "realistic" and what isn't - in other words, how well an algorithm is at simulating reality - is a debate that has raged in Wargame circles, well... forever. It boils down to a stand off between people who think tons of rules are more true, and people who think that simple elegant rules are more accurate. Personally I don't think that debate is an honest one. It isn't about which one is better it is more about which one is better at simulating what part of the reality sought after.

For instance, a re-enactor can claim "authenticity" and point to their wool uniform, but they are not actually being shot at, there are not real political stakes at hand, and they can go home to TV that night so they are not experiencing the full reality either. Kind of like how SCA Pensic War attendees only "live the dream" for two weeks in August.

I understand that simulation and simulationist are not synonimous but there are some interesting parralells here.

For the two of you who have sim designs in the works, What part of the reality of your game world do you want players to experience?

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #46 on: November 17, 2005, 05:49:28 PM »

"Beeeg Horseshoe" and "Big Model" are incompatible theories, to some degree; to say that you use the "Beeeg Horseshoe" to understand Simulationism is in essence to say that simulationism is not an agendum, but the absence of any agendum, the persistent quashing of both narrativist and gamist impulses.  The problem I have with such a position is that there is then no reason for anyone to like simulationism, because the agendum provides the "why we are playing", or more concretely "what is it about playing this game that makes it 'fun'". In the Big Model, the answer is still being debated; in the Beeeg Horseshoe, the answer is that there is nothing that makes simulationist play fun, and there is no motivation to play that way. Although Mike might object to this, even he admits that in his view of the model those in the middle are constantly drifting toward one or the other, middle-point simulationism being more like zilchplay in the Beeeg Horseshoe construction, play without any motivation or objective, play without an agendum.

I suppose this is deserving of some clarification.  When I say look to the Beeg Horseshoe to understand Sim as written in the dream essay, I am referring only to that definition of Sim - which I refer to as either the "dream definition" or "exploration squared family of definitions".  That specific definition is compatible with the Beeg Horseshoe, as shown by the fact that it allows for hybrid play with Sim in a supporting role.  The Beeg Horseshoe is just a juiced up graphical representation of the concept of hybrid play.  And yes, I agree that the Beeg Horseshoe is incompatible with the Big Model, which is what I meant by:

Quote from: Me
Issues of where the Beeg Horseshoe/Hybrid concepts and hard to find reward cycles place Sim in the model are likely to occur, but those are just flaws that have to be accepted because the definition of Creative Agenda outgrew Sim.

I also seem to remember Ron, during that time, agreeing that the Beeg Horseshoe and the definition of Sim in the essay were compatible.  I couldn't find a quote, so he can correct me if I'm wrong.  Also, I know his views on Sim have evolved, but I'm specifically speaking to the essay and that Ron who is frozen in time with the essay.

This brought us to other definitions of Sim, such as the discovery definition.  Which I still feel is the only definition so far presented that is logically compatible with the Big Model, but am unsure if it correctly describes the type of play people seem to mean when they say Sim and is an active enough behavior to be a creative agenda.  Regardless, I'm in agreement with you (provided we get our definitions of Sim straight) up until this point:

Quote
The Dream definition and The Discovery definition are two ways of expressing the same concept. The game is driven by the desire to know and understand and experience the imagined reality.

It is my impression, as one who I think does understand CA and has been cited for explaining it well, that Ron, Vincent, Ralph, and several others who have been cited as offering different views of simulationism, as well as I, all have a pretty clear agreement concerning what the thing is, and are more stymied by how to express it in language that communicates the same idea to others. Thus Vincent is right that if you don't really understand what simulationism is, you probably don't really understand Creative Agenda at all, or at least not well enough to see how they work. It's very much about why we play, or what we hope to get from play, or what is the objective of our getting together to play--about why is this fun. There is a very specific reason why simulationist is fun for those who enjoy it, one which at a fundamental level encompasses all that is called simulationism, but getting a description of that on which everyone agrees as to how well it describes that nebulous "it" has been problematic.

I disagree that the dream definition of Sim and the discovery definition are compatible.  The definition of Sim in the essay (which I'm calling the dream definition) supports hybrid play and is linked to causality, whereas the discovery definition rejects hybrid play and is not dependent of causality - just to site a couple fundamental differences.  I don't think there is a lack of ability to describe the dream, discovery, or other definitions.  The problem is that the language cannot be found for a definition that encompasses them all because they aren't the same thing.  No amount of rewording is going to make concepts that take opposite stances the same.

*****

That's why it's so important to be clear about which definition you are talking about when discussing Sim.  If people here want to prove a point and make some Sim supporting games, then they need to know which Sim they are going to support because these definitions aren't all describing the same things.  You shouldn't expect them to.  These varying definitions came about because people felt another definition was logically flawed in the model.  Not just in their wording - real conceptual changes away from elements that might be covered elsewhere in the model (such as how exploration covers the dream sufficiently and actor stance covers bricolage sufficiently).

This exalting the Fiction business is fine and good and all as another way to describe the exploration squared definition, but it won't fix the incompatibilities between that definition and the Big Model that we agonized over so much after the Sim essay came out - incompatibilities that lead to M.J.'s discovery definition.

I have a rant brewing about how the GNS presented in the essays should be given a big red stamp saying "Final Version", the flaws accepted, and discussion of theory moved on to new topics, so that maybe concepts like a discovery agenda and Jay's bricolage playstyle can be discussed without GDS baggage.  Maybe later.
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« Reply #47 on: November 18, 2005, 12:55:58 AM »

I disagree that the dream definition of Sim and the discovery definition are compatible.  The definition of Sim in the essay (which I'm calling the dream definition) supports hybrid play and is linked to causality, whereas the discovery definition rejects hybrid play and is not dependent of causality - just to site a couple fundamental differences.  I don't think there is a lack of ability to describe the dream, discovery, or other definitions.  The problem is that the language cannot be found for a definition that encompasses them all because they aren't the same thing.  No amount of rewording is going to make concepts that take opposite stances the same.

I disagree with this. I think M. J. is correct when he says that Discovery, The Dream, Fidelity, Celebration, Exploration Squared and other propositions on what Sim is are all attempts to phrase one common idea that Ron, Mike, Vincent, and others all understand but can't quite find a way of phrasing with the same "Aha!" quality that we see in defining Gamism around Step On Up or Narrativism around Story Now.

causality? it's there, even in Discovery, because Discovery depends on the theory that the things you are discovering exist in The Fiction for a reason.

hybrids? hybrids are still possible under The Big Model and are possible under a Discovery model for Sim also. the key to seeing how is to recognize how hybrids work: they are not simultaneously Sim and Nar or Sim and Gam, but instead have prominent Sim phases that occasionally switch into Nar or Gam phases -- usually, its seems, mixing high Sim physical combat with Nar tools (The Riddle of Steel is usually cited as an example of this.)

it would work the same way with Discovery: you would have Discovery phases which would switch to Nar or Gam at particular high moments.

I do disagree with M. J. on a couple other points, or rather I think he mistakenly sees a disagreement in what I proposed.

Quote from: M. J Young
Thus there really is no "exalting the fiction over the needs of the individual", because definitively within the agendum the individual needs to discover the fiction, and thus the fiction is what is serving the individual. Preserving the integrity of the fiction (often very important in simulationism) is not done because the fiction requires it although the needs of the individual might dictate something else; it is done because the needs of the individual are for the integrity of the fiction to be maintained.

M. J., I'm not saying that there's no social aspect to Sim -- I've said several times in the thread that there is -- nor am I saying that Sim doesn't fulfill an individual, personal need. I'm saying that the social aspects of Sim are restricted to a need relative to an impersonal object: The Fiction. the group shares this vision of what the fictional world should be. the group wants to explore (discover, celebrate, be faithful to) that vision. but the group does not want things outside The Fiction to interact with the fiction. specifically, it doesn't want person-to-person esteem issues or sharing of moral ideas to interfere with The Fiction.

this is the crucial part of what I'm saying. I haven't disagreed with the basic understanding of what Sim is; by itself, "Exalting The Fiction" or "Focusing on The Fiction" is just another way of saying "Celebrate the source material". what's different is that I'm explicitly saying that players with Sim priorities don't want The Fiction to be altered by something outside The Fiction. I'm also making a statement about the way people have been communicating about the agendas: I think that some of the vicious arguments about Sim here on the Forge arise because Sim players and Gam/Nar players have incompatible ideas on how to socialize and what The Fiction is for[/].

in Gamism and Narrativism, you show your guts or make a moral statement in the context of The Fiction. in Sim, you show The Fiction itself and don't talk about anything else.

I'd like to get back to one other thing that has surfaced in this thread: the idea that Sim is currently too big and covers multiple agendas. I don't think this is true, at least not the way it is expressed. I think there are Technical Agendas (not a term I invented; I think it was coined by Mike Holmes, although perhaps Ben Lehman's Aesthetic Agendas are really the same thing.) Technical Agendas are preferences for specific procedures or kinds of rules, such as when a person prefers freeform, heavy use of Drama, or Fortune with high points of contact.

a couple people in this thread have mentioned that they thought The Big Model doesn't define the process unique to Sim the way it describes the processes of Gamism and Narrativism. I puzzled over this, because the whole point of saying that Gamism and Narrativism being similar to each and distinct from Sim is that, although all three share the processes of Exploration, Gamism and Narrativism add a social processs, the direct, personal interaction of Step On Up or addressing premise, in contrast to the indirect, impersonal interaction about The Fiction. I didn't see the need for an extra process in Sim other than the now-familiar "Character + Setting = Situation, resolved by System, and embedded in Color".

then it occurred to me: since Sim is focused entirely on The Fiction and objects to the direct, personal interactions of the other two agendas, Sim players focus much more on the Technical Agendas than do Gamist and Narrativist players. they become much more attached to techniques, because these are the tools used to manipulate The Fiction -- the all-important focus of Sim.

I think this is why some people have felt the description of the process of Sim is lacking something, and also why there is such strong factionalization in the Sim agenda. "I don't want to be lumped together with THOSE GUYS. they don't play like me at all!" perhaps this will be of special help for Jay; rather than defining Sim as bricolage, he can recognize it as a specific technique that is extremely important to his method of Exploring The Fiction.
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John Laviolette
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contracycle
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« Reply #48 on: November 18, 2005, 01:17:39 AM »

Gareth, I'm pretty sure that if you looked you'd find plenty of arguments leading up to my current position.

And I know for certain that there are contradictory positions.  You cannot simply presume your argument to be correct and dismiss any dispute.  And the longer and more consistent the differences are, the less sustainable that position becomes.
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contracycle
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« Reply #49 on: November 18, 2005, 02:04:30 AM »

I'm stongly in favour of the "discovery" idea in sim, and I don't think its that complicated really.  I also think that "the fiction" is a bad term to use, becuase the source material may well be factual rather than fictional.l

You see, my perspective is that most games, especially games played by children, are forms of training.  Hide-and-seek, for example, is not a game about step-on-up, it is about kids practicing running, dodging, hiding, spotting.  "Lets pretend" and "doctor" are explorations of adult behaviour and roles.  Kids games have a function that is totally unrelated to games-as-entertainment, they are games as practice and discovery.  And this practice is so extensive its not even limited to humans, and may not even be limited to mammals.

And thus I fully agree with Jason that the Discovery idea does indeed permnit gamist hybridisation, partly becuase the built-in motive to perform repetitive practive is the subjective experience of fun, and partly because the thing you want to discover and learn about my itself be a set of bounded interactions, that is, a game.  This is why Flight Simulations work so well as a game - the topic of intended discovery is easily abstracted into the console-and-monitor format.  And Flight Sims show precisely the same overlap with the Gamist agenda we see in RPG Sim - at the extreme ends you have totally realistic flight models with no combat at all, and infinite-ammo shoot-em-ups that are all combat all the time.  Most games fall in the middle, using a partly realistic flight model so the game has some veracity, and a mostly fun combat system to feed the demand for sensations of entertainment.

But why, then, should sim gaming incorporate multiple people?  Well, precisely because they serve as a reality check on your errors.  Rather like hide-and-seek, its no good thinking you understand the flight model, or are good at hiding, if in fact you are not.  Exposure to others is a way of testing your understanding and your abilities, NOT becuase of some self esteem or status issue, but purely for self-satisfaction and verification of comrehension.  At the very least, such differences of perception can be aired and discussed and with any luck everyone will walk away better informed than they had been when they arrived.

IMO, most games make most sense when understood as forms of training and practice.  In this regard, it is Narr that is the weird agenda, the odd one out, attempting to take a methodology of learning and use it for the address of moral premise, whereas gamism is easily explicable as the enjoyment of pure challenge.
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #50 on: November 18, 2005, 09:50:29 AM »

causality? it's there, even in Discovery, because Discovery depends on the theory that the things you are discovering exist in The Fiction for a reason.

I knew someone would mention this after I made my post.  Of course, causality is present in discovery.  It's present just as it is in Nar and Gam.  Causality, verisimilitude, and fidelity are all Exploration thresholds and thus the same concept.  Discovery is never served by inconsistency, just as creation of theme and engagement of challenge are never served by inconsistency.  Pacing and accessibility to the audience may be served by inconsistency.  That may seem the same as theme creation, because we might use the word "dramatic" to describe both choices, but it's not the same.  Saying that theme or challenge can conflict with verisimilitude/causality is saying that Exploration can conflict with theme or challenge, and as Creative Agenda sits inside Exploration (an agenda exists inside the act of role-playing) that's not possible.  This is why definitions of Sim that rely on exploration/verisimilitude/causality/fidelity are incompatible with the Big Model.  Supporting such definitions requires you to apply the concept of opportunity costs across layers of the model - saying that by focusing more on explored elements more you are therefore doing less of Nar/Gam.  This is the old negative definition of Sim.  The concept of opportunity costs doesn't apply for fairly obvious reasons.  You can't agenda less by exploring more when agenda is fully contained inside exploration.  Thus, any definitions of Sim dependent upon exploration to explain them are incompatible with the Big Model.

This is what is different about the discovery definition.  It is not dependent upon verisimilitude/causality.  It does not need the Exploration layer to define it, just as neither Nar nor Gam do.  That's the point.  That's why discovery is logically sound and exploration squared isn't.  It's also why they aren't the same.

Quote
hybrids? hybrids are still possible under The Big Model and are possible under a Discovery model for Sim also. the key to seeing how is to recognize how hybrids work: they are not simultaneously Sim and Nar or Sim and Gam, but instead have prominent Sim phases that occasionally switch into Nar or Gam phases -- usually, its seems, mixing high Sim physical combat with Nar tools (The Riddle of Steel is usually cited as an example of this.)

it would work the same way with Discovery: you would have Discovery phases which would switch to Nar or Gam at particular high moments.

Ok, I should probably just let M.J. handle the topic of hybrids.  Ah hell, I'll do it anyway.  Hybrid play is logically incompatible with the Big Model, which is why the discovery definition rejects hybrid play.  Why hybrid play is incompatible with the Big Model is because Creative Agenda is assessed as a dominant mode over an instance of play, and no more than one agenda can dominate a rewards cycle due to the requirement that agendas be able to conflict.  The big key to seeing why hybrid play isn't compatible with the Big Model is the instance of play concept.  The fluctuating atomic moments, the Nar highs and Sim backbone, are not what are used to assess Creative Agenda.  It is the overall pattern.  Again going back in time to the origins of the discovery definition, M.J. and Ron didn't have the same stance on hybrid play.  (See What is the Dream?, with the disclaimer that views have probably changed (like mine), but seeing as I'm still talking about the essay I feel it's a valid thread to reference.)
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contracycle
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« Reply #51 on: November 21, 2005, 02:23:49 AM »

Ok, I should probably just let M.J. handle the topic of hybrids.  Ah hell, I'll do it anyway.  Hybrid play is logically incompatible with the Big Model, which is why the discovery definition rejects hybrid play.  Why hybrid play is incompatible with the Big Model is because Creative Agenda is assessed as a dominant mode over an instance of play, and no more than one agenda can dominate a rewards cycle due to the requirement that agendas be able to conflict.

Thats true, but its also an a priori assumption in the formulation of the model - having identified CA clash as a cause of dysfunction, it thyerefore predicts that any group without a single dominant CA will suffer conflict.  That might be true, but I think that a properly signposted and flagged system might be able to move from one to the other and back again.  It seems to me the observed dysfunctions may themselves arise from a lack of clarity and consensus on the change of agenda.  SO I think there is a possibility that such can still be built; but it won't be done by being casual, and won't be done by declining to design toward an agenda.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #52 on: November 22, 2005, 12:36:59 PM »

Man am I late to this party.

But, um, I like sim. At least as much as I like narrativism. But I like that, too, Gamism, too.

I'm pretty convinced that the Forge bias against simulationism comes directly from most games associated with sim having actually been badly incoherent. That is, the real culprits are things like the Impossible Thing, and standard Gamism/Simulationism incoherence. Which is so, so common amongst pre-Forge games.

What's remarkable to me is that people like myself fought tooth and nail against Beeg Horseshoe, which says that sim is dysfunctional, to come up with the current definition because it's a definition of sim as a functional sort of play. Anyone who sees the definition as including dysfunctional play is merely seeing people's preferences against sim, which I think are largely extant because of the nature of previous sim designs. Note that, interestingly, people here are "OK" with gamism (though they don't play it), because they understand that it's supposed to just look like fun play of checkers or other pre-RPG games.

And I have tried on several occasions to help with the explication process of what sim is. I don't think that I can be blamed for merely being about supporting the status quo when I'm so willing to accept alternate descriptions. I don't accept alternate definitions for the most part, but that's because it always seems to me that everybody is talking about the same thing with sim, just using different terms for it.

Well, everyone but Jay. And I'd be willing to accept Jay's changes, too, if they didn't throw out large chunks of functional play (though if they didn't do that, then I think that Bricolage would be the same as discovery, etc, etc). Hell, I'll chuck all of the Big Theory and GNS later this afternoon if somebody presents me with a model that they can demonstrate is acutally superior.

I don't think we have an adversity to changing the model, I think we have an adversity to changing the model just to match one person's point of view, when that doesn't match anyone else's. I mean how many people here would agree that their problem with simulationism is merely in the terms used to define it, and not what the scope of it is? As far as I can tell, Jay is the only person who has a problem with the implied nature of simulationism. Gareth has a problem with the bias (and perhaps rightly so), but not against the definition AFAICT. MJ merely sees "discovery" as more accurate. Marco has problems with how problematic GNS is, but not with what Simulationism is. I try to describe it every way under the sun, but it's pretty much always the same thing I'm describing. Ralph "quavers" from the ironclad definition only to accept MJ's term change. John Kim worries about the precise sim/nar line, but otherwise understands what it is. Chris Lehrich agrees with me apparently that it's best to see sim as part of hybrids where it's the primary mode. Jason says that it's problematic, but that, when push comes to shove, the definition works for day to day operations. John's thread here is using "fiction" as a replacement for exploration pretty much one for one (though saying that having a priority to explore the fiction that exceeds your priority is a contradiction - sim is player desire for "exalting the fiction" being higher than the other two by definition).

Have I missed anyone?

Seems like a tremendous non-issue to me. But, then, I'm probably just being a stubborn propoent of the CORE (Cult of Ron Edwards!) hegemony that seeks to arrogantly put down anyone who thinks outside the box. Oh, well, being brainwashed, I suppose there's nothing I can do...

Mike
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« Reply #53 on: November 22, 2005, 03:14:07 PM »

Hey, Mike. I have a problem with the scope of Sim. But the difficulty of discussing the problem on this board is extreme. So I believe that it's far more useful here to talk about CA in a flexible manner, as a coherent alignment of the layers of the Big Model, than to talk about fixed categories of play.

I slipped up the other day, but since you ask, I'm raising my hand.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #54 on: November 23, 2005, 07:50:01 AM »

I'm sure that, in fact, there's no complete consensus on precisely what the scope of any mode is. And I wasn't trying to say that there would be nobody that objects to the definition of the scope currently - my point wasn't that nobody other than Jay could possibly disagree with the scope. In fact, I'm sure that there are probably some silent number of people out there rooting for Jay's theroy.

But I think that even more people agree with you and I that it's time to move on from this. That is, it's Ron's theory, and he's stated that it's past time for us to move on away from this as well. That is, it's really just not that important to have a perfectly precise definition of the scope of simulationism. When I say that most everyone agrees on the scope and such, I'm saying that the general concept is well enough fixed in everyone's minds (including Jay's definition that's not completely out of left field or something, but rather just nailing down certain particulars) that given that we're moving on from GNS, "fixing" the imperfection of the definition has become largely academic.

Basically it's largely distracting the debate from important things like "How can I create a functional agenda that includes rules-shifting?" to subjects that have dubious value. If people think that sim is somehow being missed out on, the one really good way to get people's attention would be to design a sim game that made the points in question. Otherwise I'd suggest that perhaps proposing whole new models of play with other goals might be a better option than trying to revise Ron's rapidly aging model.

Why aren't we talking about Mendel's PCom3? Or looking at things more in terms of John Kim's Virtuality and some of his other theory? John Kirk's design patterns book? Costick's recent presentations on the future of gaming? Montola's upcoming doctoral thesis? All highly academic stuff for those who don't want to delve into actual game design. And all probably more important than the definition of simulationism.

If it helps, I'll cop to having prolonged this by allowing myself to get dragged back into the discussion on the subject. I certainly can't resist a good debate.

Mike
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« Reply #55 on: November 24, 2005, 08:47:11 PM »

I have two things to add to this thread this week; one of them is directly relevant and the other probably needs it's own thread, but it's Thanksgiving for goodness' sake and starting a new thread that probably wouldn't go anywhere is not something for which I can spare the time.

The directly on point matter is the idea that simulationism can never be influenced by metagame concerns. Assuming the discovery definition (and assuming the other definitions are other ways of trying to communicate the same idea--I'm just using the discover definition for the sake of the terminology appropriate to it) this can be shown not to be so.

Let us suppose we are playing in a simulationist exploration of Middle Earth. We're in Fanghorn Forest. Suddenly someone--in most credibility distributions it would have to be the referee--thinks, what would happen if the Entwives returned? He then starts events that suggest that the Entwives have been seen somewhere near the edges of the map, and starts to explore what happens from that.

The first point here is that the decision to bring in this event is still completely simulationist, but also entirely metagame, geared toward the question of discovering facts about Middle Earth and its residents by creating situations that reveal aspects of them not already known.

The second point here is that the limitation that this can only be introduced by the referee is entirely arbitrary and not essential to simulationist play--it's only a strongly tendential preference within it. There is no a priori reason why Radagast the Brown's player could not introduce the idea by stating that he heard from one of the birds that there were Ents, or something like them, moving in the northlands. Author or even director stance could be used to initiate this as a new area of exploration, without breaking out of the mode of simulationist play.

The question of hybrids is the other problem, the one that should have its own thread--except that I remember starting that thread a long time ago (or maybe someone else started it and I replied to it), and I have no clue how to begin looking for it. Thus I'm going to keep these somewhat off-point points brief, and hope that if there really is something to discuss here someone will open a new thread.

No one debates whether it's possible to design a game that inherently drifts or openly transitions as part of play. Scattershot was supposed to do that with built-in mechanics. Multiverser does it from player/referee interaction. The Riddle of Steel is often cited for it.

The question, though, is what we mean by "hybrid". If all we mean is that the game supports different agenda during different play phases or different situations, that's a given. However, there are three other possible definitions of the concept that have been discussed on this forum, and usually when the word "hybrid" is mentioned, it means one of those two.

One, sometimes thought to be represented by The Riddle of Steel, is a simultaneous full commitment to two distinct agenda by each player. Given the Sim/Nar hybrid which TRoS is supposed to be, that would mean that in combat players are fully committed simultaneously to making moral statements based on the Spiritual Attributes and to experiencing the dream in terms of knowing what it might really be like to be in such a combat. The difficult question is whether it is really possible to have that complete commitment to two so disparate agenda during the same in-play events. Like Jason (who handled it admirably) I think this is not possible; in early "GNS" discussions my assertion that I "was all three" led to the conclusion that I "was only one at a time". That sort of drift/transition play is not at all that uncommon in my experience, in that given the right game players will move to different agenda in response to different situations. This sort of "I want both of these things absolutely right now, and will not sacrifice either for the other" play is questionable to me.

The other theoretical hybrid is characterized by a word which I think I picked for it but can't remember (and Mike was citing me for it just within the past few weeks)--convergence? That might be it. Whatever the word was, the concept was that a game might be so designed that two different agenda would tend toward the same in-game decisions, thus facilitating coherent play between players with differing agenda. My model for this was a Viet Nam-type combat unit game. Gamism, narrativism, and simulationism would all tend to point to making the same choices in most of the situations that arose in play, and where they led to different choices those tensions would become support for all three agenda. For example, the question of whether to attack the village becomes a debate between the characters. For the narrativist, this is addressing premise, that the characters have this tension over a moral issue. For the simulationist, this is exploring what it was really like to be part of such a unit where the debates over what was the right thing to do compromised the effectiveness as a combat unit. For the gamist, this became one of the liabilities that had to be overcome to beat the odds, that he not only had to fight well against the baddies, he had to overcome the negative baggage at the same time. That game was never designed, so there's no certainty as to whether it could work. However, convergence as a hybrid concept is one of the possible definitions, which would mean a game which simultaneously supported different agenda among different players in such a way that their choices would mesh in play.

The final definition of hybrid is a game which provides sufficient support for two different agenda that it can be played out of the box either way without discarding any of the rules, with minimal rules/agendum conflict for either choice. TRoS is also cited for this sometimes.

The discussion of whether a hybrid is possible thus must first satisfy the question of what a hybrid is. In Ron's earliest discussions of GNS suggested that hybrids by the definition of players prioritizing more than one agendum were not possible. Later they became theoretically possible, and potential examples were suggested. Ultimately, I believe he concluded that they were at best extremely unlikely and never demonstrated to be possible.

I personally think the term has little use, because its definition is so uncertain. By one definition they may well be impossible; by another I'm sure they're quite common.

--M. J. Young
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talysman
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« Reply #56 on: November 29, 2005, 01:18:08 AM »

I tried to reply to this while I was off on vacation, but ran into a technical problem.

just to make things clear:

  • I don't agree with Jay that Sim is bricolage, but that's not what this thread is about.
  • I think hybrids are not only possible, but also have a clear design approach; that's not what this thread is about.
  • I know that SIm is just as social as Gamis or Narrativism; the presence/absence or quantity of social interactions is not what this thread is about.
  • I agree with M. J. (and disagree with Jay) that there are metagame decisions in Sim, but that's not quite what this thread is about.
  • I agree with Ron's definition of Sim, but would like it to be "grabbier", like Narrativism and Story Now. that's not even what this thread is about.

what the thread is about is the quality of the social interactions and metagame behaviors in Sim. Mike, you say:

Quote
sim is player desire for "exalting the fiction" being higher than the other two by definition

exactly. I'm drawing a conclusion from that definition, and from observed behavior. "Exalting the Fiction" is different from Exploration of the Fiction because the communication between the players at the table is indirect, mediated by the Fiction, in the same way that you might see two guys talking about a machine they are working on and pretending that personal issues of guts or moral opinions don't exist. the metagame in Sim is always about who has the right to add to the Fiction and under what circumstances.

in M. J.'s "entwives" metagame example, even if it turns out that the player introduced the entwives for a later Narrativist purpose, the actual action at this point is still Sim: it expands the Fiction using the existing Fiction agreed upon by the players (which, in this case, includes the published material about Middle Earth.) it does not justify adding entwives as an ally to gain a tactical advantage, nor does it justify adding them to make a moral point (maybe a choice between finding the entwives or raiding a barrow?)

or another example, from a game I played with friends this past saturday. the characters were trapped in the basement of an abandoned hotel. one of the players suggested finding the elevator; we did, but it had already been established that there was no power in the building. there was a very Simmy discussion about whether a person could restore power to a building that has been without power for years. we then pried open the elevator, discovered the elevator car was on the floor above; one player suggested that in movies (and perhaps in real life, but none of us were sure,) there would be an access ladder at the back of the shaft that we could use.

this was a metagame negotiation, drawing not from personal concerns (tactical or moral,) but from an impersonal source: in this case, real life elevator shafts, or as close to it as we'd experienced, instead of source fiction as in the Middle Earth example. it was done through social interaction, but in an impersonal manner -- us discussing the Fiction and our understanding of the world, rather than what we as individuals wanted from the story, or using tactical resources to influence events. if one of us had raised one of these other reasons as justification to add to the Fiction, or even if one of us wanted to switch the Color of the Fiction from modern Los Angeles supernatural horror to 24th century "Star Trek" because we liked that better than supernatural horror, there would have been a serious breakdown in the social contract and a heated argument would have broken out, in part because  we're no longer treating the Fiction as an extra player, with its own "motivations" in play; we've reduced the Fiction to a thing to be manipulated instead of respected.

if no one takes further issue with these comments about impersonal versus personal communications and the nature of the Fiction in Sim play, we can move on and close this thread. we can split off other issues, like hybrids, into separate threads. if, however, someone wants to question whether the personal/impersonal distinction is accurate, or doesn't think the Fiction acts almost like an additional player in a Sim game, or wants further clarification, or perhaps wants to discuss whether the Sim preference for the impersonal represents some social issues peculiar to pure Sim players, then perhaps we have more to discuss.

thanks to everyone for participating in the thread.
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John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #57 on: November 29, 2005, 06:17:42 AM »

Hiya,

I'm validating the closure, and also stating that that final post contains just about anything and everything I'm interested in saying about Simulationist play.

Best,
Ron
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