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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: DitV - Clash of Expectations  (Read 9550 times)
Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #15 on: May 25, 2007, 02:24:56 PM »

Hi Jamie,

I agree! Sorry for reading you a little maliciously in order to make my point.

Frank
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If you come across a post by a guest called Frank T, that was me. My former Forge account was destroyed in the Spam Wars. Collateral damage.
khelek
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Posts: 24


« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2007, 05:34:54 PM »

Frank,

From my experience playing with Billy it is not the content or mechanics of Dogs that is at the root of the issue, but the nature of play that I was aiming for (whether or not I succeded). Billy ran us a game of Starwars D20 this last week, and of course like we all do he brtought his own styles and expectations to the table. As per most rpgs the GMs style and expectations color the game more than a PC-player. In this case he brought us a Mission Type game where were are over matched, but have a chance as long as we follow the plot. We were encouraged to think of ways around problems, but of course with the D20 tool-kit the interactions and variations are extremely limited. We were not encouraged to circumvent the plot, and were expected to follow along even though we thought we could see ways around the set plot.

This style (much like my style 3 or 4 or so years ago) is what Billy wanted from Dogs, I think. And of course I think I responded the same way that Billy did to my game. After all even though my expectations of a D20 system were inline with the game that we played the game that we had clashed with my own expectations of how a game should be played. I certainly expect more narrative power, less linearity, and less Investigation. I have moved away from long narration of what I see or experience from the GM's view point and more into each player sharing their views on what is happening.

I hesitate to point Billy here as I feel that it would not be particularly productive. He does not think this is how games should run, and he is not wrong! Neither am I of course! I do not think that I want to try and coach him through it. I think me and Mel (mel is trying to run a number of small press games as short story arcs or one shots) would rather present players with a number of options, play styles, systems, and games so that players can see for themselves that there are other options rather than D20, White Wolf, or Rifts. It is not my intention to try and convert players except with my enthusiam for these games and how they play. I may of course be wrong, but I think that billy's reaction to these kind of discussions would be the same as mine reaction to discussions on therpgsite.com

We are now planing to alternate D20 Starwars with Burning Wheel. I am hoping that the contrasting play experiences will highlight all the things that I love about games like Dogs and BW (lots of love for you other writers out there!) and maybe start changing Billy's play style though experience. Maybe we will try and post some compare/contrasts to highlight how the games encourage different play for our mixed group of D20/Indie gamers. should be lots of laughs.



In regards to getting it, I think the players picked up the Stake rules and the fall out mechcanics quickly, though of course fully grasped it at the end. However the fallout mechcanics were part of what some of the players thought were broken, which of course they are if you play your character as you would play to get bigger numbers on your character sheet. rather than focusing on the real elements of play, decision making. If we get to play again, I would certainyl bring in a confict involving two equal but innocent characters. To contrast against the very start conflicts that we had in our last game. ah well.. next time.

----

Jason
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Frank Tarcikowski
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« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2007, 05:15:41 AM »

I]did<
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khelek
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« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2007, 12:22:20 PM »


Frank Said:
Quote
Frank Tarcikowski
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Posts: 277

Hamburg, Germany


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« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2007, 05:28:59 AM »

Ah, curse the simplicity of the English language! "You", in this case, was plural, refering to the group as a whole and Billy in particular. Anyway, it's pretty usual that rules mastery takes its time. Don't worry about it!

Frank
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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2007, 10:55:04 AM »


On a more general level I was glad to see this thread developed as it highlights a problem that I have experienced with new games, sometimes you get the feeling in these forums that certain games are "the solution" to this clash of expectations. Dogs is indeed one of those suggested.

I have seen very similar things happen with Dogs in my group. The sequence of games were a resounding success and some of the players gasped a lungful of fresh-air, (one even running it for a while which gave me a great chance to play it myself) but others, while eventually grasping the central premise and settling into the game, still occasionally struggled with what we were doing, falling back on "tactical control" and "discover the secrets" type behaviours in a game that has no real need for them. Not a game breaker, or even that much of a problem, but suggestive of a persistent perspective clash on a "what are we doing" agenda level.

Interestingly you are considering Burning Wheel which we have moved onto, with less success so far. Still struggling with this one myself but I suspect that BW is just not a game I should be running and I may try and twist the arm of one of my more rules minded players to take it up instead.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #21 on: June 03, 2007, 07:13:31 AM »

Hi there,

I may be unnecessarily rubber-stamping what's been said already, but the first concept of the Big Model is that the individual, personal goals of play cannot be dictated. System matters in meeting goals, but not in instilling them.

It's often the case that someone might discover a long-suppressed or kept-private goal of play through encountering a rules-set which facilitates it, but it's wise not to mistake that phenomenon for the rules-set making or producing that goal for that person.

Best, Ron
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khelek
Member

Posts: 24


« Reply #22 on: June 03, 2007, 12:07:55 PM »

Ron, after three reads of your two lines I understand. Have limited myself on how much of the Big Model I read. (and also limit myself on commenting on it!) But yeah, that is what our group is trying to do:

"Hey guys! here are some games you may have never heard of, but they rock! try them out." some people have really jived on it, others seem to be confused or frustrated but don't know why they are frustrated (as discussed above). Mel was focusing on exposure, ater all it is hard to like a game if you have never heard of it.

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Noclue
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Posts: 304


« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2007, 11:37:23 PM »

They shot the man in power, the Branch's Steward, and they saved the man who he had in custody, an Unfaithful man whom they were told was a sorcerer.

You see, right here I'm thinking "OK, Brother Robert the Steward is lying in a puddle of mud and gore, his legs twitching as the life runs out of him" and I raise "you hear a woman's scream as, on the porch of the general store, the Steward's wife falls to her knees weeping and repeating one word over and over "Why? why? why?" as the rest of the townspeople stare at you in shock. Out of the corner of your eye you see a small child dart across the street toward the fallen man. A young girl, maybe three or four, in dusty petticoats and a light blue bonnet..."Papa?" And then the sorcerer starts laughing.

Yeah, the one with the most attributes wins. Sure.
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James R.
baron samedi
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Posts: 137


« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2007, 05:27:13 AM »

About the clash of expectations mentionned above, one sentence drew my attention: "(We) still occasionally struggled with what we were doing, falling back on "tactical control" and "discover the secrets" type behaviours in a game that has no real need for them. (...)

The issue of "the impossible task of trying to control the unexpectable" has long been a core subject of management litterature since the last 10 years. In fact, trying to have groups of people follow a set of forethought behaviours in an unpredictable environement is what defines the notion "strategic planning" if not management itself. In this light I can't help but notice, from watching all those discussions on that matter arise on the Forge, that much as the gaming expectations that lead to dysfunctions, as viewed from the GNS and/or Big model, have parallels with scientific models in Public Choice theory in economics and strategic planning litterature. Management since has much to do with game mastering, at least on the "do/don't" element.

In this regard, I think many players/GMs faced with the "how to make a railroading scenario work" or "how to rid oneself of that knee-jerk reflex" conundrum to plot design may find an interesting analysis about this  in the 1994 best-seller by Pr. Henry Mintzberg from McGill University (Montreal), "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning".  A review: http://www.hepg.org/her/abstract/310

I've adjusted the following quote to situate in in the RPG medium, to show how this reference could serve to upgrade the debate on the notion of "clash of expectations" between planner (GM) and staff (players), the book's very premise, Please bear with me:

Quote
Mintzberg critiques linear plots strategic planning as a doomed attempt to apply Frederick Winslow Taylor's principles of scientific management to the tasks of gaming the administrative ranks by prescribing a strict, regimented procedure for GMs planners to follow. While a routine for loading pig iron onto a railroad car may be efficiently standardized, Mintzberg argues, the act of creating plots strategy is an extremely complex process demanding sophisticated cognitive and social skills that researchers have only begun to understand; plots strategy-making certainly cannot be formally programmed by GMs organizational theorists.

Mintzberg painstakingly dissects what he calls the "fundamental fallacies of linear plots strategic planning." For example, while linear plots strategic planning attempts to predict or control the future, present forecasting techniques are extremely limited and notoriously inaccurate; while strategic planning requires quantitative data, such data are commonly too limited in scope, too aggregated, too unreliable, and too late to be useful in effective Actual Play strategy formulation; while strategic planning frequently focuses exclusively on plot fore-writing strategy formulation, the success for implementation rests upon people who had nothing to do with creating those plots plans.

This, I think, explains why GMs like Bobby (and most mangers by far) share strong expectations about controlling behaviour predictability as the basis for the proper way of running things. Moreso, Mintzberg provides strong arguments to show why this approach will often fail when confronted to reality and suggests solutions (though not very strong ones) to enhance real-time adaptativity. You may be surprise to see the parallels with many design models discussed about on the Forge.

Agree with Mintzberg or not, the book's an interesting demonstration in 500 pp. or so about why problems arise when trying to predict how people should behave instead of adjusting on the moment with general guidelines. This is definitely relevant from my perspective in RPG scenario design IMHO. I thought it might be useful and, of course, I'm not implying anything about anyone in peculiar. Just my 2 cents.

Regards,

Erick
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Web_Weaver
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« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2007, 07:08:31 AM »


I hear you very clearly Erick, my mantra is stop trying to prejudge or pre-narrate the game/plot/conflict and just play it. This tendency is present in so many of the patterns of play that they are often not noticed until a problem arises.

How I have found Dogs useful, is a way of demonstrating what my play aims are and a way of discussing these aims. Before DitV I had no real way of doing this apart from pulling apart game sessions in a negative or frustrated manner.

The fallout mechanism in Dogs has helped me demonstrate why I value character development over skill increases, and Town Creation has allowed me to explain to another GM in our group why some traditional preconceptions of the GM role are not necessarily required in games with less clear design, like HeroQuest or Spirit of the Century. I also plan to use it to help explain what premise means when we return to these games.
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baron samedi
Member

Posts: 137


« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2007, 10:30:09 AM »

I hear you loud and clear, Jamie, and I agree. I think we all have the "fantasy author" reflex to write stories and force players to fit in them.

One thing I somewhat dislike in the "new trend rpgs" is the minimalist settings - I like intensive fluff. In fact, until discovering the Forge, I never actually read the game mechanics part. From a designer perspective, my main concern is "Is it possible to write professional RPG adventures or campaigns that rest on player choice?"  I didn't see much of this in the Forge-designed games.

Perhaps that very idea is a clash of assumptions by itself, trying to write what shouldn't be written, or perhaps campaigns could be built by basing one's ideas on the DITV fallout system or with a campaign-specific point-based structure like Polaris or MLWM. To me, pre-made campaigns are good stuff for tired GM and good starting points.

Personally, I'm experimenting with "consequence gauges" designs (e.g. too much violence rises the Criminality scale with game-based consequences). I'm a bit uncertain if a full campaign really can be built with that. I feel like your friend Billy at these times, falling back to my "familiar zone". Conversely, I always did find of little use the profuse location and NPC descriptions in the World of Darkness books, for example, for being too static. I liked Savage World's "plot point" concept, but it's still not quite "Narrativist (pre-written) campaigns". Maybe there is no solution. I don't know.
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