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Author Topic: [Werewolf] complete the mission! realistically! (GNS ?)  (Read 21427 times)
David Berg
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Posts: 612


« Reply #15 on: November 09, 2006, 06:56:29 AM »

Ron,

Good catch.  I have absolutely been thinking about agendas, goals, tastes, preferences and rewards on the scale of the individual.  My design ideas have largely been based around the idea, "Okay, if we want to incentivize Player A to play in a certain way...," as opposed to, "Okay, if we want to incentivize Group A to play in a certain way..."

As a GM, I've gotten into the habit of chatting with players individually about what they do and don't like and do and don't want to do in my games.  In every game I've run, the answers have varied.  One guy wants to learn more about what's going on in the setting, another guy wants problems to solve, another guy wants to kill shit and turn his character into a badass.  The ways in which I've tailored my games in an attempt to enhance player fun has been by combining these elements so there's "something for everyone."  Subjectively, it seems to me that my tailoring often does result in the game being more fun overall.

Now, one difference between this process (A) and my design process (B), is that in (A) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "my friends who like some form of roleplaying", whereas in (B) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "people I've never met who like the form of roleplaying I'm pitching".  (Said pitch includes issues of consistent and realistic setting detail and resolution mechanics, plus a certain aesthetic to the historical and supernatural aspects of the setting.)

I guess my first question is, "What is your take on this process?"  Feel free to be highly critical and to tell me that your design strategy is totally different and way better -- that's mostly what I'm here at the Forge for, design advice.

I hope that doesn't sound like a change in topic -- at the moment I'm guessing this is highly related to optimal usage of CA theory.

Thanks,
-David

P.S.  Can I get OCD on you and ask you to finish this sentence?

So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the

I'm finding it hard to move on not knowing what was written there.
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David Berg
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Posts: 612


« Reply #16 on: November 09, 2006, 01:44:05 PM »

Ron,

It occurred to me that there might be some value in asking "what's the proper use and place of CA?" (previous post) in parallel with "how close am I to getting CA?" (this post).  So:

I am looking for those things about play . . . which are recognized by all of you as "why we're here." Not as a motive that brought you here, but rather as an activity that you do here. When I say "recognized," I do not mean articulated or even internally thought - I mean recognized as evidenced by responses, communication, and reinforcement among you.

Let me use an example from my own gaming and see if I get this point. 

Three years ago, I ran a Pitfighter game (terrible name for a game I created in middle school) for John, Vic, and Aaron.  I went into the game wanting them to play in certain ways that accorded with Techniques I liked, addressing issues of plausibility and vividness ("Don't use out-of-game knowledge!"  "Roleplay interactions, don't summarize the way you assumed they happened!").  Beyond that, I had some dramatic events in mind, but no particular plan for how the players should interface with that plot beyond a vague "save the world".

As we played through the first few sessions, it became clear to me that John was looking to "follow the plot" whereas Vic was looking for more authorial control, having his character do exactly what he "would" do, as first conceived.  Aaron didn't seem to care which direction we went, so long as his religious nut character was given opportunities work with that identity and apply it to interesting moral quandaries.

As it played out, Vic's choices for what to do with his character derived solely from his backstory, and left no obvious place for John and Aaron to contribute.  Aaron was very passive, never complaining, but looking bored a lot.  John wanted to find the badguy and begin the quest to defeat it.

Eventually, I asked Vic to try to alter his character's choices to do something group-friendly, and he said okay.  I had Aaron's religious order make some radical changes to their doctrine and plans based on the developing evil threat.  I basically steered everyone into tackling the evil threat head-on, and as people mostly seemed to enjoy it, I didn't revisit that decision.  I think that part of the reason they enjoyed it was that they didn't cling to their original motives, but adapted to "what playing this game with these people now consists of, by GM decree" and found it acceptable.  (The fact that I was genuinely trying to provide a good time for all probably helped make the transition palatable.)  Much mutual digging of each other's contributions to understanding the nature of the evil threat and forging plans to stop it occurred.

In this process, our course of either Sim, Gam, Nar, or Incoherence was forged. 

In this case, my first analysis would be that I railroaded (the general term, not the Forge term) an Incoherent game into a Sim game, or at least a more Sim-heavy version of Incoherence.

Does that application of CA theory sound correct?  Or at least on the right track?

Ps,
-Dave
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2006, 08:45:50 AM »

Hi David,

I've been caught up in non-Forge obligaions this week, so I appreciate your patience with me. Some computer problems are also hampering me, so my ability to link to older threads is a bit limited.

Here's the fixed sentence:

Quote
So there's kind of a large-scale "stuff going on" interest, and within that, a sense of strengthening the big picture by paying attention to the sub-units of the events. And it goes the other way too, in that the more you get a better idea of "what's going on," the more commitment you can bring to smaller-scale units like fights.

The trouble is, that was kind of half-composed, even the part you saw; I'd forgotten to go back and really clarify anything in it. So here's what I mean - if you're in a scenario, then the investigations, conversations, and fights are part of making that basic scenario into the SIS, and resolving it as a feature of an ongoing, developing plot (for lack of a better word).  Think of this as "starting large," from the GM's prep, and then you guys all "fill in small" with the characters' actions and their outcome. But then, conversely, those actions and outcomes end up strengthening and making more internal sense out of the big picture, most typically when the GM returns to the prep stage for the next session.

In this case, what I'm saying is at first not relevant to GNS, because it's merely the useful interaction which generates an SIS, with a bit of a defined division-of-labor between GM and the rest of the group. No big deal. However, when this is made into the primary, driving aesthetic goal of play, so that the syncretic, responsive attention to the whole SIS' integrity not just a key feature, but actually a goal in action - there you go, that's some Sim for you, baby.

Also, if you haven't, please see my discussion of constructive denial and Simulationist play in one of the GNS threads near the end of that forum's tenure (someone, help with link please?). It's strongly related to this same point.

Any thoughts on that? This is probably the main topic of interest for me right now in this thread, that we work through this exact point.

For example, and to reinforce its importance, I'd like to put the period on the end of the sentence about the individual-motive vs. group-agenda issue, so we can leave it behind. My take is that, in discussion of our own actual play, we always tend to focus on the distinctions and differences among us, which is why people are always asking me if Bob scratches his ass during play and Jane doesn't, isn't that some kind of CA clash? The answers you get to direct questioning about goals will vary, because people are always focusing on style and technique, not on expressed/active goals and shared priorities.

I recommend looking over my discussion with Levi and the bicycle racing analogy that seemed to work so well for him. If you ask bicycle racers why they do it or what they want, they can potentially go on about all manner of wild extrapolaions or focusing on some technical or organizational detail - completely missing the fact that they are all, actually, engaged in racing against one another. It's so obvious to them that it presents no target for reflection. In Levi's case, he was all fired-up about how this one guy in the group was so concerned with tactics and effectiveness, and yet it produced no clashes among the group, so wasn't that Gamism folded into whatever else? And the answer was no.

That's why, over time, I've decided that simple polling or interviewing isn't the best way to address any kind of Creative Agenda question or development. It's fine for the details; if Joe wants more fightiness per unit play-time, there's no reason why not to get some more fights in there, or if Sue wants the "lost father" on her sheet to freakin' show up already, then sure, again, why not. Communicating and talking are just right for that stuff.

However, you won't get to CA that way, I think. Not without a greater command of the issue based on a self-directed reflection over your own play-experiences. And that leads me to my next point, and request for you. I've been a little interested throughout this thread in that you have kept your own interactions, character choices, or other impressions of play pretty much out of it. I'd like to see more of that. What do you do, during play? How do you reward/reinforce stuff that other people do, GM included? What do they do for you? Actual examples will matter greatly.

Quote
As a GM, I've gotten into the habit of chatting with players individually about what they do and don't like and do and don't want to do in my games. In every game I've run, the answers have varied. One guy wants to learn more about what's going on in the setting, another guy wants problems to solve, another guy wants to kill shit and turn his character into a badass. The ways in which I've tailored my games in an attempt to enhance player fun has been by combining these elements so there's "something for everyone." Subjectively, it seems to me that my tailoring often does result in the game being more fun overall.

That matches my experience as a Champions GM for many years. It does work in the sense that no one person is, on the average, bored, frustrated, mad, isolated, or any number of other negative things. It also works quite well, fortuitously, if the group is firing on a coherent Creative Agenda already (and hence discussion of it may not even be cognitively available). For less CA-coherent groups, it also works in the sense that every so often, "things come together" in a wholly satisfying fashion, for at least a few members at the same time.

What you describe is certainly more fun than acrimonious, fucked-up play. No problem with that, then. The question is whether you're achieving coherent play (which I claim carries some benefits) or are persisting with a survivable form of incoherent play. Here, I think my conversation with Mark (Buzz) is relevant, especially my links to Chris Chinn's diagrams and our discussion about them. That's why I'm pleased to see your attention to that thread in this one.

Quote
Now, one difference between this process (A) and my design process (B), is that in (A) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "my friends who like some form of roleplaying", whereas in (B) I've been thinking about how to "make the game work" for the collection of individuals who are "people I've never met who like the form of roleplaying I'm pitching". (Said pitch includes issues of consistent and realistic setting detail and resolution mechanics, plus a certain aesthetic to the historical and supernatural aspects of the setting.)

I guess my first question is, "What is your take on this process?" Feel free to be highly critical and to tell me that your design strategy is totally different and way better -- that's mostly what I'm here at the Forge for, design advice.

That is a fair question and my take is that (B) may generate great games and that (A) generates adequate games, with scattered content and a lot of familiarity-comfort based on specific other games. It's been interesting this past year to see a sea-change in the Forge-ish games produced out there, including those by folks who purport to hate the place. A lot of them have been (A) based on Sorcerer, for instance, as well as Universalis and Primetime Adventures ... and not surprisingly, they are adequate and reasonably engaging (especially in reading), but they aren't actually doing the (B) thing in practice.

This is, indeed, a change in topic, and in this thread I'd prefer to focus on this Werewolf game, with an emphasis on your own play and how it relates to others'. I think that CA-type thinking is going to help you out a lot if you can see just what to apply it to, and that's a case study that will serve nicely before we hare off toward a game in design.

I wrote,
Quote
I am looking for those things about play . . . which are recognized by all of you as "why we're here." Not as a motive that brought you here, but rather as an activity that you do here. When I say "recognized," I do not mean articulated or even internally thought - I mean recognized as evidenced by responses, communication, and reinforcement among you.

You replied by applying this to a game of Pitfighter that sounds (this is a very brief, perhaps incorrect impression) a great deal like Mark's Champions experience. However, I'd like to discuss the Pitfighter example later, again, after we take this point and apply it absolutely directly to you in this current, here-and-now Werewolf game.

Best, Ron
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Caldis
Member

Posts: 359


« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2006, 12:15:52 PM »


I think this is the link you were looking for Ron.  http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17334.msg188019#msg188019
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 612


« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2006, 01:23:29 AM »

Ron,

A lot of my recent discussions with John and Matt in the Werewolf game have focused on "what activities do we want our characters to be engaged in"?  Throughout most games I've played, most of my friends have referred to this as the determiner of "whether or not I will have fun".  This is quite possibly an example of your point:

The answers you get to direct questioning about goals will vary, because people are always focusing on style and technique, not on expressed/active goals and shared priorities.
 . . .
I've decided that simple polling or interviewing isn't the best way to address any kind of Creative Agenda question or development. It's fine for the details; if Joe wants more fightiness per unit play-time, there's no reason why not to get some more fights in there, or if Sue wants the "lost father" on her sheet to freakin' show up already, then sure, again, why not. Communicating and talking are just right for that stuff.

Not-particularly-critical observation has led me to believe that, while causal attribution may be misplaced, there is indeed a very strong correlation between "nature of in-game activities" and "fun/no fun for player A or B or C".  More fights and lost fathers do actually tend to go with Joe and Sue enjoying themselves!

Your characterization of the "go on missions" m.o. in the Werewolf game as a Technique makes some sense to me, and I am wondering if matters of Techniques and Ephemera may be more crucial in my attempts to design what I want than Creative Agenda is.  For now, however, I'm interested in exploring your suggestion:

I think that CA-type thinking is going to help you out a lot if you can see just what to apply it to

I only worry that, having failed to directly relate it to my goals thus far, I will start wandering off into abstract philosophizing (as I often do) and lose track of a point.  So, for the time being, I have an idea on how to proceed.  As long as you have some idea where you want this to go, just ask me quetions, and I will try to answer no more nor less than what is asked for.  Sound good?

Some answers to questions already asked:

if you're in a scenario, then the investigations, conversations, and fights are part of making that basic scenario into the SIS, and resolving it as a feature of an ongoing, developing plot (for lack of a better word)
 . . .
However, when this is made into the primary, driving aesthetic goal of play, so that the syncretic, responsive attention to the whole SIS' integrity [is] not just a key feature, but actually a goal in action - there you go, that's some Sim for you, baby.
 . . .
Any thoughts on that?

Abstractly, this makes perfect sense to me.  So does your message about constructive denial:

A great deal of the aesthetic power of Simulationist play, as I see it (and I mean that literally), lies in (a) adding to or developing that package, and (b) enjoying its resiliency against potential violation.
 . . .
This "package" rests ultimately on a shared understanding and agreement about the inspirational material. The group often enters into a shared denial that the "package" is constructed by them, identifying their particular excitement about the material with the source itself.
 . . .
To stick with the example, let's say your group is enjoying this Star Trek role-playing experience. Then someone in the group announces an action for a character which demonstrates that he or she, the player, doesn't understand the group's shared agreement about what Star Trek "is" in the first place
 . . .
I anticipate that the other members of the group will strongly, and in some cases semi-hysterically, insist that their shared interpretation is "objective fact," or any number of other similar terms. These are not useful conceptual terms, but they are very effective social code for sanctioning the input of the person who has broken the constructive denial.

with the exception of one thing:

in Simulationist play, there must be an ongoing, reinforced agreement about a set of information that cannot be threatened. This is our shared understanding of what we bring into the imagined events of play, and it must be seen as a complete package - not only the five components of Exploration, but also any thematic or other emergent content.

If you are contending that, in Sim play, the shared understanding and sacrosanct set of information always includes all five components of Exploration plus emergent content, then I'm not sure I get that.  If you are simply saying that the understanding and info cover what they cover, and they may cover all five components of Exploration plus emergent content, then I do get that.

I've been a little interested throughout this thread in that you have kept your own interactions, character choices, or other impressions of play pretty much out of it. I'd like to see more of that.

Heh.  Well, unfortunately, this Werewolf game differs in some important ways from the game I currently want to design.  I feel like the way I enjoy this game is different from the way I enjoy more "realistic" games.  So, I've been hesitant to present "here's what I've been doing" as an indicator of "here's what I like in roleplaying".  Oh well... I'm sure there's some continuity in my preferences, perhaps even including a preferred CA...

What do you do, during play?

When faced with the need for decision on either "what do we want to do?" or "how should we go about it?", I actively brainstorm in my head, and speak IC when I have any sort of contribution.  I tend to limit my brainstorms to the scope of "what helps our (somewhat-nebulous) overall mission to bring all shapeshifters together", confident that if we do that, Matt will provide fun play scenarios.

I generate ideas quickly and am pretty convincing when I decide on one I like, so the group follows my plans a lot.  If someone else comes up with a plan that I suspect leads to a dead end, I'll argue IC, and occasionally look to see if the GM is making a yes/no expression.  My preferences are for "the best option to better our characters'/my character's goals", regardless of who comes up with it.  Everyone in the group has had the "winning" idea at least once.

When dealing with NPCs of obvious use, my approach is similarly utilitarian.  My character sheet has a "subterfuge" score, but I think I only rolled it once, when someone was trying to detect my aura or something.  Usually, I get information by diplomatic speech and impromptu lying.

When specific opportunities come up to make a comment on life-support, chaos, The Wyrm, decay, and corpses, I take them.  The more weird Robert's viewpoint sounds in context, the more I enjoy it.  Matt's good at providing the bugged-out expressions of NPCs I offend.

If an opportunity presents itself to bring others around to Robert's POV, I intend to take it.  I'm pondering trying to con tech-nerd Elantrin into walking a magical pattern that may drive her insane, just to "show her the truth".

Style-wise, I like to "get in a groove" and think IC for substantial periods, so any time everyone's consistently engaged with that kind of focus really gets me pumped.  An example of the way I feel:
GOOD: We must kill them.  (changes voice, speaks very quickly)  Matt, quick question, do I know that staking actually works on Vampires? (GM nods.  player changes voice back)  Or stake them.
BAD: We must kill them... or stake them... unless my character doesn't know that staking works... would I have learned that where I come from?

The "groove" (something I've called "immersion" in the past) is almost always enjoyable, although sitting around IC failing to brainstorm a plan tends to go with (cause?) me "losing the groove".

How do you reward/reinforce stuff that other people do, GM included?

In any IC-talk-oriented moment (e.g. "we need a plan") where Robert's present, I stay IC as much as possible.  During those times, my appreciation of others' play is reflected only in my general excitement level.  Also, if anyone makes a particularly unique presentation of some facet of their character, I'll interact with that.  Robert will never just say, "Okay, you're afraid of bulldozers, whatever, let's move on" -- I'll generally play confusion ("bulldozers?  really?") to encourage elaboration. 

(John absolutely returns the favor, as do some NPCs, depending on urgency.  Paul generally shows some brief interest.  Meg's character tells us we're crazy and she's the only normal one, which works for me most of the time, although every once in a while it curtails a fun exchange I was looking forward to.)

When Robert's not present, I just pay attention, and try not to influence anyone.  Today John made a horrific mistake (Shimmer told someone where we lived), and I knew I could have stopped him mid sentence just by bugging my eyes out or mouthing "No!"  However, Robert wasn't there, and the mistake was one John's character could plausibly have made, so I kept a neutral expression until John had finished blurting.  When Shimmer told Robert in-game, I had fun playing disbelief followed by demands for Shimmer to redress this, at the cost of his own life if necessary.

There have been other times, however, when a player was about to do something disadvantageous in a pressure situation, and I did speak OOC: "you sure you want to put all your weight on that?"

After the game's over, I often tell Matt that I had fun, and rehash exciting moments with John.  If someone had a particularly brilliant idea (pretend to be vampires!  blast fireboy with the water main!), I may congratulate them.  This latter I somtimes do OOC after a tense period (like combat) has ended even if the game's still going.  It doesn't happen all that often, though.

What do they do for you?

I seem to remember Paul reciprocating pretty much everything I said above in subtle fashion.  Meg and John just get excited when we have a cool plan.  John's stoked when we win fights.  So, sharing that is fun for me.

Matt occasionally congratulates me on following one of his leads (which honestly doesn't do much for me) or for roleplaying my character "well", which means (to Matt, and to me too in this game) distinctively and true to his established concept.

CLOSING SPECULATION REGARDING CREATIVE AGENDA:

For me, the hardest part has not been identifying what Sim/Gam/Nar play means in written form (though I'm constantly refining that, and this discussion is helping), it's been "calling it" correctly in practice (i.e., "what does Sim/Gam/Nar play look like?) and relating it to design.  In the current pattern of:
1) find a friend who's willing to GM
2) find other friends with compatible schedules who want to roleplay
3) figure out everything else from there,
I find it doubly hard to figure out if everyone's there for the same reason.

Ps,
-David
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #20 on: November 16, 2006, 08:08:46 AM »

Hi David,

That was a wonderful and tremendously helpful description of play, for yourself and (as you see) for everyone else in the group via the corollary bits. Although I'm not going through it point by point, as there's no reason to, I want you to know I've worked hard to process all of it. I'll also give you the feedback that what you describe is far, far more central to the success of the group of a whole than "I'm just a player" can cover. You are playing a key role in cementing and helping to shape the functional properties of your role-playing group, and apparently without the poisonous effect, which sometimes occurs, of supplanting the GM's specific creative role.

I think I'm seeing the major issues that we have to resolve explicitly if this thread will be useful to you. I've tried to state some relevant points for them in every post so far, but it seems to me that the "knot" is deeper and more knotty than a few isolated comments can deal with.

WHAT WE'RE DISCUSSING

I'm not discussing your game in design, nor your Pitfighter game. I'm talking about the game you brought up as a topic, with your GNS-based questions concerning it. You apparently have a kind of secondary goal, regarding your game in design, which frankly impedes our discussion here.

For example, you may have thought that if I "diagnose" you in this thread, regarding the Werewolf game, that somehow I will have locked and trapped you into a GNS-label that you (a) cannot escape and (b) must then apply to your game in design. "Ha!" I will say, "You're a Simulationist!" and wham, your game in design for any other goal is hosed. You'll be branded, your preferences revealed, and no one will ever listen to you or help you in any other context.

I don't know if that's the case, in your mind, but if it is to any extent, then you must put it aside. I'm discussing the Werewolf game (a) at your request and (b) because I think that illustrating the logic of discussing CA will be helpful to you in your game in design. You can apply the same logic without fear of being forced toward the same results simply because of this current game.

Is that clear? Reasonable? This is a non-negotiable question that overrides any particular paragraph-to-paragraph exchange between us so far in this thread.

ABOUT CREATIVE AGENDA

1. Creative Agendas can be observed if you look at the right variables at the right scale for a given group of people playing a given game. This must be done by examining the Big Model (for that group and game) as a whole, and by identifying any consistent reward system in action. You will find that a CA, if present, operates more like a "value system," or a context for standards that apply in some way to all parts of the Big Model in action. You'll also find that if it's not present, or variably present, then the group is either utilizing some interesting compensating mechanisms or in the slow or quick process of coming apart.

Another way to look at this is to say, "What is so functional (consistently fun) about this activity that this group continues to play this game together?" This question should concern the components of play in the Big Model, not stuff like "it's fun to hang out together." That's starting with the reward system and it's often tough, for anyone, for a variety of psychological and social reasons.

I think I've done this to whatever extent I can with your Werewolf game. It looks like a very strong Simulationist play example, not in the sense of "I guess it's not Gamist or Narrativist," but rather because the group as a whole is extremely committed to the cycle of missions, consequences, further missions, with the result that the details and perhaps intrinsic insights of the setting (and its symbols) become more and more apparent and colorful through play. The platform of Exploration supports an agenda of what I'd like to call dynamic portraiture, with the SIS as a whole best understood as a representative work in progress. All of your described actions as a player, both toward and from your fellow participants, support this notion.

2. Creative Agendas cannot be observed in the same sense that "I prefer dice pools," or "I like lots of fights," can be observed. Those are, respectively, techniques and situations. Techniques and situations are, as you know, categorized and placed in the Big Model in such a way that they are not, and cannot be, Creative Agenda.

I'm getting irked because you keep talking about techniques and situations. Here's how this thread is going. I tell you, "That is all very well and good, and yes, people do have preferences (for the moment, or long-term, whichever) about techniques and situations. It is not surprising that they want to see these preferences realized. But that is not Creative Agenda, which operates as a larger-scale aesthetic context, and which you have specifically asked about. Here is what I see with your CA."
Then you say, "Yes, yes, but those techniques and situations are what people talk about. And they're happier when they get them."

And I repeat myself. And then you dodge it again. This is getting tiring and I'm stopping it now. The only way to do this is to say, with my above two points in mind, "David, do you understand why I have suggested a Simulationist interpretation of your group's Werewolf game?" I'd prefer the answer, if it's yes, to be accompanied by a paraphrase of some kind, to say-it-yourself.

As a related point which I'm mentioning only to dismiss, you raised an issue of whether the Simulationist aesthetic must or may cover the five components of Exploration. I could answer this clearly and simply, but I think it will only descend into a further debate at an ever-dwindling scale of topic and relevance. With respect, I think you're twisting pieces of your mind into a knot with questions like that. I don't know why you're doing it, or what for, but I suggest that you stop, and straightforwardly answer my question in the previous paragraph. Maybe we can get back to it later.

You closed with some speculation including this key point:

Quote
(... "what does Sim/Gam/Nar play look like?) and relating it to design.

My first point is to say, fuck design in the ear, for the moment. We are talking about the Werewolf game, and more generally, about actual play, period.

My second point is to say, when you look at play, you will see situations and techniques because that is the immediate scale of attention we focus on, as people, and what our habits of gamer culture tend to focus on exclusively (perhaps even with a degree of deliberate denial of anything else). So if I point at an example of, say, Narrativist play like Levi's Frostfolk group, and if you look at it and say "Oh! Those situations and techniques," you will have descended into a hell of incomprehension that is very, very hard to emerge from.

I'm hoping that this hasn't happened and that my two questions for you in this thread can be seen as our mutual path to communication and understanding for this thread.

Best, Ron
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David Berg
Member

Posts: 612


« Reply #21 on: November 16, 2006, 02:36:03 PM »

Is that clear? Reasonable? This is a non-negotiable question that overrides any particular paragraph-to-paragraph exchange between us so far in this thread.

It's clear that right now you wish to talk about GNS and my Werewolf game, and not techniques or game design.  I'll try to focus acordingly.

Mind if I try an analogy to test my understanding of GNS?  It seems to work for a lot of folks.

Player B shows up at a field with a leather glove and small, white ball.  Player F shows up at the same field with a an oblong, brown ball.  Player S also shows up with a big black and white ball made of hexagons. 

They stare at each other, come closer.  Then Player B begins tossing the ball to himself, Player F begins tossing his ball to himself, and Player S begins kicking his ball to himself.  At this point, player B is not playing Baseball, F is not playing Football, S is not playing Soccer.  They've enjoyed playing those games before, but now they're not playing any games, they're just, y'know, wanking.

At some point, they say, "Hey, we all like Team Sports, let's do something together."  So they decide, "The pitcher pitches the ball, the goalie kicks the ball, the defensive lineman tackles whoever's closest."  Play doesn't turn out to be much fun, as no one appreciates what the other guys are doing, and it's a sequence of "just waiting and then taking my turn".  After a while, they go their separate ways.

Baseball/Football/Soccer are G/N/S, "Team Sports" is Roleplaying, and that was an Incoherent game that failed and dissolved due to CA clash.

(One difference, of course, being that there are standards modeled on well-known, professional, "official" versions to describe what does and does not qualify as "playing soccer"/"playing football"/"playing baseball".)

COHERENCE

David, do you understand why I have suggested a Simulationist interpretation of your group's Werewolf game?

I understand how that's a possible assessment, but I don't understand how it's clearly the right one.  Gamism, Hybrid, and Incoherence still strike me as plausible at this point.

Sometimes John complains about not having a clear direction to follow or mission to be on, responds to all new in-game info with, "So Matt, what are we supposed to do?", tries to pump up his character's combat abilities in any way possible, begs for Character Points, gets really intense during combats, and wants to bask in victory after combats instead of moving on immediately.  At other times, he enjoys playing his character's unique mindset, sharing his knowledge of the setting, etc.  Perhaps some nights he's in a mood to play in a Sim game, and then we have a Sim game, and other nights he'd rather play a Gamist game -- what do we have then?  Incoherence?  Hybrid?  Sim that's just less fully satisfying?

It seems to me that CA as an emergent Group property of a bunch of Individuals sharing something can have any degree of coherence, from "pure" Incoherence to "pure" Nar or Gam or Sim.  Is that correct?

What is so functional (consistently fun) about this activity that this group continues to play this game together?

Maybe exploration of setting, character, situation and color... or maybe it's that we like applying our wits to missions.  People tend to get bored when we're not on a mission... but people also tend to get irritated when the established SIS-creation m.o. is violated...  Picking half of this equation as more "large-scale important" than the other half seems somewhat arbitrary to me at my current level of understanding. 

GAMISM

So in your case, what I'm seeing is exactly the opposite of what I identified in Andreas' game description - his experience was a balls-to-the-wall form of Gamist play, and hence all the Exploration/SIS was a means t