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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 83 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Transparency  (Read 24747 times)
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2002, 01:58:41 PM »

Hi Mike,

That would all be just fine, except that every example of transparency I've seen, with Andrew's "videotape" example in the parent thread being the top one, is about how the players "don't have to worry" about the system. Jason used the same meaning when he described Little Fears' system - the players are not impaired by having to worry about "system."

You see, every time the term is used, both the comfort level and the typically-invoked system properties are mentioned. No one who seems to care about it, ever uses "transparency" simply as system-descriptor but rather as system-causes-comfort, with the attendant assumption that players necessarily prefer lots of narration, few numbers, and minimal interaction with dice/etc.

Sure, your definition of "transparency" tosses out the comfort thing and concentrates on the system thing, but that's just you, and your retrofitting the term into a sensible form. The use I see from the advocates of transparency is always that A-causes-B, and that's what I'm criticizing.

Best,
Ron
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contracycle
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« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2002, 04:58:31 PM »

I think "heavy transparent" is an excellent description of HW.  I also liked Walts description of transparency, but I wonder, does it also not extend to the ability to predict to some extent the consequences of a potential or speculative action; allows you to easily distinguish.  

I've not played the window - I wonder, is it possibly that the system is failing to let you distinguish meaningful options?
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2002, 06:34:56 PM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Sure, your definition of "transparency" tosses out the comfort thing and concentrates on the system thing, but that's just you, and your retrofitting the term into a sensible form. The use I see from the advocates of transparency is always that A-causes-B, and that's what I'm criticizing.


Exactly. I'm saying that previous uses are just confusing. Hence the need to define the term such that it doesn't get used in such a sloppy manner in the future. If people want to speak of comfort, they should do that.

We should invite those users to defend their use before just rejecting it, however. Perhaps they meant something else entirely unique which we are not seeing. In any case, I'm certain that people mean more than one thing in their uses.

For example Gareth's example. Which by my definition would just be one particular thing that would ruin Transparency for certain players. (might also extend the definition beyond "Narrative" to "Imagined Events")

Mike
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Walt Freitag
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« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2002, 04:23:38 AM »

cc wrote: ...but I wonder, does [transparency] also not extend to the ability to predict to some extent the consequences of a potential or speculative action; allows you to easily distinguish.

Well, it depends how rigorously it's being used. (I'm speaking of transparency as a user interface design term.) There are two basic kinds of question one can ask about a user interface:

1. What will happen if I do X? (push a button, select a menu item, etc.)

2. How do I make Y happen? (that is, what button do I push, etc. to achieve a certain effect)

Modern user interface designs (as well as most manuals and help files) are pretty good at answering #1, but often suck at #2. Being able to easily figure out #2 is the real crux of transparency. But you're right, issues related to #1 often do come in as well (and they're not entirely separate issues to begin with).

The problem with "transparency" as a concept in UI design is that once it starts being used loosely to refer to some combination of 1 and 2, it becomes almost synonymous with "ease of use" in general and therefore not very useful (except that it sounds cooler than "ease of use" in project sell sheets). That seems very similar to Ron's reservations about the term as applied to RPGs. But the more rigorous meaning is still useful.

- Walt
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contracycle
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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2002, 05:03:27 AM »

Perhaps what I was thinking of was "intuitive", as in the uses of the tools available are self-evident.  Some games IME have rules which are at first glance nonsensical; you need to excavate the system at some depth to understand its internal terminology and how the twiddly bits interact with one another.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2002, 05:32:22 AM »

See, what you guys are discussing is porting the term Transparency from another field. Which is fine. But in the transfer you have to do what Gareth is doing, and see how the term might apply to the new field. Since you are only making analogies (resolution systems are like UIs) you have to analyze the result to see if it is useful on the other end.

All I'm proposing is taking that definition and expanding it a bit to include more theoretical material. Specifically, instead of just being able to see how to use the system, I was intent on including it to mean a lack of opacity to end results, as well.

Perhaps we could speak of Use Transparency and Result Transparency.

For example, I could probably say reasonably that for most players Rolemaster has a much greater Use Transparency problem than Result Transparency problem. In fact, the Critical Hits table is intended to reduce Result Opacity by producing colorful narrative results. While the system that produces it is so byzantine as to be almost completely Use Opaque. Interestingly, the Crit Chart system fails to be really Result Transparent even from the start, and becomes more Result Opaque with use, as, after a while, the results begin to repeat, and all start to seem fairly generic after all.

Wheras D&Ds Hit points are comnpletely Results Opaque. The only way to make hit point combat more Result Transparent would be for the GM to narrate over the results well.

BTW, one can discern from my posts that I would endorse the use of Opacity as the opposite quality of Transparency.

Mike
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