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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 202 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: All-out dissection (LONG AND BRUTAL)  (Read 40555 times)
Ian O'Rourke
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« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2001, 11:46:00 AM »

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Ian O'Rourke
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2001, 12:44:00 PM »

Paul and I are now thinking that Simulationism is NOT an actual outlook or goal, unlike Narrativism or Gamism. Nor is it a "design dial," as many have suggested.

The Narrativist can look on the results and say, "That story stunk, and it was my fault."

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Well, yikes...that's some pretty heavy-handed dismissal of something I think is a valid design dial.
I can honestly say I know games that can't be classified as narratvist or gamist, they only fit into the simulationist category mechanically.  So to dismiss it as a dial seems, to me, shortsighted and flat-out foolish.

As well, the bit about what a narrativist says, what a gamist says is a poor argument, I think, since it is only exploring the attainment aspect of gaming (whether the story or challenge was met), and then saying that the simulationist has no such attainment aspect, or rather that their attainment is always impossible.

The simulationist attainment would be: "That wasn't even close to realistic!  I need to rewrite the mechanics."

As a counter-point to what you've done to the simulationist, I could easily write the narrativist as saying, "That story stunk, and it was my narrator's fault."
The gamist could say, "That wasn't any fun because the rules were weighted!"

Both take blame off their own shoulders within their own tri-fold categories.

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But Simulationists seem committed to the notion of a One True Game and invest it such a thing financially as well as emotionally. It really is a trauma for them to be told, "attributes aren't obligatory." Or, "reward systems should be consistent with Contract elements of character design." So much energy (and their money) has been spent on getting the combat round Just Right, or the point-balance Just Right, or the modifier table for ammunition Just Right ...
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I do see this in simulationist games...I'm part of a design group that has such individuals in it, and focuses far more on gamist and simulationist games than narrative ones.
Yes, IMO, simulationists are what I would call 'anal retentive' about exacting mechanics and point-cost/balance/yadditty-yadditty...but that's the nature of simulationism, so who am I to complain?

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But being a Simulationist is more about living in fear.
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Bah!  I say, this sounds like front-porch psychoanalyzation to me.  I have strong simulationist tendencies in my scenario design, though plotting is usually narrative in nature and the exact events are whiddled down by "what is most probable" and "which of those makes the best story."  If the best story were to be made by something that wouldn't be probable, then its rejected.

Narrativism could equally be painted as "living in fear", living in fear that the story wasn't good enough; or gamist that the challenge wasn't interesting enough.

Simulationists aren't living in fear of not being able to do X or Y...they face the same problems as the other points on the model, that is fear about, "How do I reach my goals successfully?"

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most Simulationists I know tend to evolve into either Gamists or Narrativists ...
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Hrm...do they?  Or is it just that they have strong tendencies one way or another and the way they play the game mixes.  I mean how do you now seperate a simulationist with strong gamist tendencies from a gamist with strong simulationist tendencies?

It seems wrong to me to even start dropping narrow boxes over folks when it is quite obvious that most folks are blurry around the edges.

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Simulationist role-player's needs are met by board wargames, or miniatures games, then why are they playing RPG's?
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This is where I think it breaks down, at least for me...board and wargames say "gamist" to me, not "simulationist."  Simulationist implies 'virtual reality', trying to see what would happen, not just playing a game (chess, checkers, etc).

How to get from A to C without breaking any logical barriers in the process: that is, get there while avoiding trite feel-good methods (narrative concerns) or by using abstracted results-oriented methods (gamist concerns).

Why?  Concerns for the narrativist are to move the plot in the best way for a story, if they can get from A to B but violate a logical progression, it doesn't matter to them as long as the violation is INTERESTING and FULFILLING.

Concerns for the gamist are to win the scenario using the best combination of rules, if they can get from A to B but do so in such a fashion that the exact nature of the event isn't represented accurately, it doesn't matter to them as long as the violation is PLAYABLE and WINNABLE.

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... Although I'm not sure I'd say it's an artifact of bad design. I think it arises from a player having an interest in story elements (that can't be satisfied by pure simulationist pursuits like Squad Leader),  being frustrated by experiences of GM favoritism and railroading...
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Well, you might have something here...but only *might*, as the one hard-core simulationist I know is convinced that narrativism is simply railroading and follow-the-leader.

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When a Gamist starts to feel like the game is the GM's story time (that it's horribly compromised by railroading and favoritism), the campaign ends, either due to irreconcilable bickering among the group or lack of interest.
---------

I'd say this would make a simulationist, to ensure those shackles are there, making more rules, more realistic rules, that can be more easily used to win on a fair playing field...enough that the GM is shackled by the rules as well, so the gamist becomes a simulationist in mechanical design very easily, though his player goals may still be "win, win, win" or rather "compete".

I wouldn't say they would 'fight back differently'...it seems illogical to me that they would do so.

-Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
http://www.daegmorgan.net/
"Homer, your growing insanity is starting to bother me."
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #17 on: May 09, 2001, 03:31:00 PM »

How would we categorize Pendragon? It strikes me as a heavily simulationist game, but what it tries to simulate is the environment and atmosphere of Morte d'Arthur romance. It's not "realistic," except within the boundaries of its genre, but it does supply substantial detail for rendering the world. Does a Pendragon player forego story, or is he trying to explore the experience of being a knight in a setting of romantic chivalry? I don't see this player as driven by fear. Am I missing something here?

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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2001, 11:08:00 AM »

OK, I've given it some more thought, and I think I may have a better definition of Simulationism that works for me and legitimizes it as a game design and player goal. Forgive me if I'm reinventing the wheel. I've read the variant phylogeny and other threads, but I'm still absorbing some of those thoughts. Still, what I've come up with seems to resolve some key definitions for me, so here it is.

The conflict heretofore in coming up with a neat description of Simulationism stems from the two different types of Simulationist game: (1) the type that tries to model "real world reality" in terms of weapon accuracy, physics, and exhaustively detailed skill systems, and (2) the type that models a particular genre's or literary work's conventions and internal rules. Examples of type one include GURPS and first edition Blue Planet, while Pendragon and Feng Shui offer good examples of type two. Arguably, Amber and Dying Earth also fall into type two, though Amber has strong Gamist elements, and Dying Earth strong Narrativist elements.

What links these categories together isn't character exploration -- it's immersion and the process of play rather than the end goal of a story or a win-loss result. Both types of players want to immerse themselves in an "accurate" environment, whether it be "real" or "genre-conventional." The goal of a Simulationist game is to recreate faithfully a particular environment. Players then move through this environment and explore the consequences of their actions within the setting's rules and conventions. A strongly simulationist player isn't necessarily concerned with character exploration, though such a goal may be a necessary outgrowth of a type 2 environment. Neither is he focused on winning or losing, or even with creating a good story. It's the experience of exploring the recreation -- it's the immersive quality of the environment that motivates the simulationist player. In this context, the E-thing could be a natural progression of a type 2 approach.

Thoughts?

Best,

Blake
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2001, 11:19:00 AM »

I think you've got it, Blake, or - less professorially, "I agree." This has been my take on Simulationism since the beginning.

However, as in the variant phylogeny thread, I think the key definition is operational - the actual relationship between how and when actions are ANNOUNCED by players/GM, and how and when they OCCUR in the game-world. Simulationist play demands a 1:1 correspondence in terms of order and cause.

Best,
Ron
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2001, 05:33:00 AM »

I am a Simulationist. We can debate that point if you like, but it fits me like a glove. I am a Simulationist because that is what i like. That is not debatable; that is how I feel, and nobody will tell me otherwise. I do not fear any sort of role-playing.

There may be individuals who are Simulationists for bad reasons, and there certainly are bad Simulationists. I am not the former, and I hope I am not the latter (although that is a very subjective judgement).

Mike Holmes
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2001, 09:08:00 AM »

JOoC, what is it about playing/running Simulationist games that appeals to you?  
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2001, 09:25:00 AM »

As Mytholder points out, there is no fear involved (as far as I can tell) but a curiosity and urge to explore.

To me, Simulationism by its very nature has a very scientific feel to it.  Which makes sense, I suppose.  The One True System would be akin to the Unified Field Theory (I think?  Not a science goon).  And it's telling that Simulationist games seem to be enjoyed/written/run by people in that mindset.  Jeff Barber is professor.  MJ Young has a law degree or something (rules lawyer!  hah!).  People like Josh Neff and Pete Seckler, just through online convos (well, I know Pete a bit in RL), strike me as being very artistic people (Pete is an artist, Josh is obviously interested in some wild literary material) -- it doesn't surprise me that they're interested mostly in Narrativist systems.


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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Mike Holmes
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« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2001, 10:43:00 AM »

And I am a programmer/analyst who specializes in developing systems for calculating and reporting statistics. And I love my job. I am also a board and wargamer. I play stuff like Advanced Squad Leader and Starfleet Battles all the time. The more complicated the better. I design games like this as well and my friends have said of me that "Mike's never met a game he couldn't make into a complex RPG". Yep, a real mutant. I love math. My wife is a math major, in fact and we talk math all the time (although she blows me out of the water as far as knowledge). You might in the end find me not to be as dry as I sound, I have plenty of other interests as well. But, all in all, I think that I fit an Simulationist personality profile to a T.

What do I like about Simulationism? Well, what do people like about flight sims? You get to do (simulate doing) something that you otherwise can't do. Is there combat in the sim? Then you get to experience a little of what that might be like and not get killed. It's exactly as Greywolf put it, I want to live another life. It's not that I don't like my life, but why not live several others as well.

On top of this (and this'll see, very wierd to you, maybe) I like to simulate my character; y'know, role-play? I have fun acting the role as I interperet it. For the audience and myself. To this extent I usually try to play something out there to see if I can pull it off at all. I know that this is an odd concept to you, Jared, but the challenge of trying to play a hiver from Traveller is to me compelling. Even if others think I've failed miserably, it's still fun to me (and There'll probably be some laughs in there as well).

As a GM I am very much a setting guy. I write a new complete fantasy world every couple of years, and ususally have several other ideas going at once. By setting I also mean modern settings that are alternate Earths, and all sorts of other stuff. One of my favorite settings I call Vector and is very similar to a more serious sort of Gigantocorp orbiting Earth (wrote it about fifteen years ago, so you can't sue me, Jared).

I don't do premise as well. I tend to just give a group a reason for being a group and let them go and find their own adventure. Since the characters all have their own personalities and goals, they usually get themselves into plently of trouble without much prodding.

"What's that? A thirty foot tall batwinged gorilla that turn a person to glass with its icy breath? And it's been awakened after hundreds of years of imprisonment? Let's go get it!"

That's not a very deep plot, but things got much more interesting when people determined that the glass statues that the characters were selling were actually cursed folks.

I've used this anecdote before, too, but it illustrates things well. I had another player who I was pretty sure was a Simulationist, but this nailed it down. His character was in a situation where he might notice a dangerous enemy approaching. I asked him to make a roll and he failed. He said that his character was going to start looking around carefully. I asked him why his character would do that given that he was unaware of anything odd going on and he replied that if that was the case that I should be making the perception die rolls for him. It turns out that he didn't want to know anything that his character didn't know (within preventable reason). A gamist would have wanted to keep the roll so that he could use it to his advantage. A Narrativist would have just used the OOC knowledge to make the story better. But he wanted to experience what his character experienced as closely as possible. Seeing the per die roll ruined the experience for him. I understood.

Does any of the above give you any hint as to why I like Simulationism? As a narrativist I don't expect you to sympathize, but can you see where others might find this fun? As Seth said it's escapism. But it's better than daydreaming, because it's social and interactive. Neat stuff.

Mike Holmes
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Zak Arntson
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« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2001, 12:26:00 PM »

I can easily see the love for Simulationism.  While video games do a great job of this (I think Bullfrog's Dungeon Keeper is one of the best games of All Time), there is something to be said about sitting around a table with a bunch of friends.  Much more social than a video game.

As a "zen" programmer I personally lead towards Narrativism, but the thought of simulating an environment or a character holds appeal (in most cases, though, I think that more rules equates to better simulation, which I believe is not always the case).

I have a game brewing in my head where the players are all Machines who have something wrong (meaning, self-awareness/ambition).  It is simulationist, in that the players are supposed to really get into the role of a robot.  But it is rules-light to allow for simulation of the Machines without gory detail.

Example: Stats are 00, 01, 10, or 11.  Your Manipulation stat is 10.  You can ALWAYS Manipulate better than a 01 or 00 stat.  If the scores are the same, a roll is made.  Simple.  But the game lends itself to a Simulation mindset: "I am a Machine programmed for THIS function (which will cause me to lose my freedom) while trying to retain my individuality.  How can I go about this given my limitations?".

I'll post this (when I get my rpg site up) for what I believe to be a rules-light Simulationist game.
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Poxface
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« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2001, 12:34:00 PM »

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2001, 12:49:00 PM »

No one is on trial in this thread.

NO one ... is on TRIAL ... IN THIS THREAD.

The issue is whether Simulationist leanings, for players and GMs (as opposed to game design), are reactive toward the requirements of Narrativist or Gamist play.

The real issue is whether this is a valid generalization. That's a very important concept: a VALID GENERALIZATION. Such a thing accounts for most of the variation we see in whatever phenomenon we're talking about. That's what it does, no more and no less.

Therefore, I believe Mike without qualm when he says, "Your description does not describe me." However, that fact is not relevant. Valid generalizations admit exceptions.

Poxface (Jeff, right?) presents the Process/Goal axis, and identifies Simulationism as Process-oriented. That's fine. It does not, however, address the issue I brought up.

No one is being insulted. No one is being smeared. No one is being called anything. The question is whether my first post in this thread is a valid generalization.

No one, frankly, has really met that question head-on.

Best,
Ron
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Poxface
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« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2001, 03:19:00 PM »

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Logan
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« Reply #28 on: May 24, 2001, 03:32:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-05-23 16:49, Ron Edwards wrote:
The issue is whether Simulationist leanings, for players and GMs (as opposed to game design), are reactive toward the requirements of Narrativist or Gamist play.


At this point in time, I do not believe your generalization is valid. My research and experience leads me to believe that completely pure players (players who completely epitomize one of the 3 axes with no real influence form either of the others) are few and far between. This is why I say that bias is a matter of emphasis, not a choose-one, winner-take-all proposition.

The Simulationist player, as near as I can tell, places emphasis on the credibility of events in the game and on the presentation of character true to that character's known outlook and beliefs. This is not a reaction against aspects of Gamism or Narrativism. It's simply a singularly different approach to play.

I think maybe the key to it is in the approach to portrayal of character.

The Gamist often looks at the character's personality in terms of advantages which can be exploited. The player makes decisions which are best for him with respect to making progress, earning experience, or emerging victorious in the game.

The Simulationist often looks at the character's personality as a basis for making decisions in the game. The player portrays the character true to the character's known outlook and personality. If that means making decisions which hurt the character, the group, or the story, this is acceptable because it's what the character would most likely do in that situation.

The Narrativist often looks at the character's personality as a basis for creating story and adding subplots. The player wants to make sure the character has impact in the game world and that the character's actions play well in the story. The player will make decisions which result in defeat or are somewhat out of character if it makes for a much better story. The player will also happily invent some previously unknown motivation to justify the unexpected turn of events.

Best,

Logan

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-05-24 07:33 ]
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #29 on: May 24, 2001, 06:50:00 AM »

Am I right in saying that what you mean Ron is that there are people who play different styles of play than they really should because they have fears about bad experiences that they've had with those styles? I understand that you were specifically referring to Simulationists, but this is a general principle that can be extended to all three styles, I think.

I usually state that I am a Simulationist to champion the cause, and because I prefer Simulationism more often than not. But I like to other styles as well, really. So, yes, while I may not be an example of this problem, per se, there are certainly people who have this problem. They are usually most easily identified by irrational railing against a particular style. "Stupid Munchkin Gamists!" is possibly the cry of somebody who has had bad experiences with Gamist games. "Rules-Lawyering Simulationists" and "Effete Story-pushers" cries my indicate having the same problem with Simulationism and Narrativism respectively.

Can G/N/S help these people understand that they might like these forms if they were to find a good example. Absolutely. But I think that these problems exist in all three Styles. It may be more useful to look at helping people realign their dysfunctional gaming style stances rather than looking for particular causes. The causes are likely mutitudinous.

Mike Holmes
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