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Author Topic: The GAS Project  (Read 3680 times)
Vulpinoid
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« on: August 01, 2008, 03:03:51 AM »

I was first lured to the Forge by the contests, but lately there hasn't been too much of that happening. So I've decided to see if there is any interest in a contest idea I've been considering. If I can get half a dozen potential starters over the next fortnight I'd be happy, if I can get more then I'll put forward some more solid contest details. I'll be looking to start the contest mid August with a finish date at the beginning of September.

Here's the premise...

A contest isn't challenging unless it imposes some kind of restriction on the participants. Most of the contests over the past year have been dedicated to size restrictions...system in a can...system on a character sheet...but I'd like to present a contest that limits the scope of what is produced and pushes a game concept in a new direction.

Hence GAS....the (G)enre (A)dvancement (S)ystem.

The aim is to create a new set of meta-mechanics that really push a certain genre of play.

Each participant would pick a genre that isn't well represented in role-playing, or at least a genre that has been done really badly in some game...the kinds of examples I'm looking for include such things as "romance", "medical drama", or "vehicle stunts".

Examples I'm not looking for are things that have been done numerous times in plenty of games such as "martial arts",   "horror", "loss of innocence" or "fantasy".

This set of meta-mechanics shouldn't be too intrusive into an existing game, but its presence should favour a certain style of play that is epitomised by the genre. A game of D&D with a meta-mechanic of "medical drama" would still be recognisable as a game of D&D, but the players should get the feeling of playing through a mediaeval version of House MD, or an apothecary version of ER.

The meta-mechanic should be simple enough that it can be applied to virtually any existing game system to flavour the game and bias it toward a certain style of play. Consider the different sets of rules for White Wolf's storyteller system, where each creature type has a subset of rules that aim to recreate a different twist on the World of Darkness. You can play a game of savagery and tribalism using "Vampire", but the subset of "Werewolf" rules make the game more suited for this.

The aim is to pull out the specific rules that help to define a genre and boil them down to their essence...thus making a flavouring agent that can be added to any other game to give it the right genre feel.

This might be as simple as defining a new gauge that can be added to a character sheet and showing how it can influence a character's decisions or agendas. It could be as complex as a multi-page rules insert that creates new relationships and mechanics that favour a certain style of play and tools that can be used to help integrate these concepts into a game.

A great result from this contest might allow me to play a game of Texas Hold-em poker, the d20 system or simply be flipping some coins...but the same meta-mechanic applied to all three makes me feel like I'm in the middle of a car chase.

The first part of discussion for this contest might be trying to decide on some genres that are under exploited in role-playing but would make suitable candidates for this sort of treatment.

V

edited by me to fix formatting - RE
« Last Edit: August 01, 2008, 08:30:16 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged

A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2008, 11:30:33 AM »

This is a great idea and could be really fun.  If your time frame meshes, consider me in!  Mid-August is Gen Con, however, which will put the screws on many likely participants. 
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2008, 07:02:28 PM »

Given the GenCon timeframe...and given that the concept will take a bit more pondering to get right...I'll shift the contest idea back to September. We can spend August seeing how many people are interested and brainstorming/fine-tuning the specific details of the concept.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Vulpinoid
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2008, 10:38:01 PM »

If anyone has ideas that they'd like to see explored in this contest, please post them.

You can see some of the examples that I've provided "Romance", "Medical Drama", "Vehicle Stunts"...but there are plenty of other options that I've seen done really badly in roleplaying games, and these could easily be re-devised.

Insanity has been dealt with in games like "Cthulhu", but perhaps you might have a better idea for an insanity system that could be applied to those games where the concept isn't a current part of the setting.

My initial thoughts were to not include things like combat systems for this challenge, but there are plenty of games with clunky systems that are either really slow or just plain bad...a person involved in this challenge could feasibly come up with a "real-time" combat system designed to emulate Hong-Kong-style martial arts or Hollywood-style espionage.

If the new system really gives the vibe of a specific genre, then it can work. I don't just want the same old combat systems we've seen a dozen times before, and I don't want people to just rehash something that's already been printed in another book.

As I write this, a few other concepts come to mind...
"Film Noir"
"Codes of Honour"
"Redemption"

Each of these have been done in games before, but what is it about these concepts that makes them unique? What can be drawn from them an injected into another game to give a dramatically new twist?
 
Any discussion is more than welcome...

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
LordKiwi
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2008, 12:21:29 AM »

Sounds interesting to me. I'm bogged down with crazy amounts of work between now and the end of september, but if it only has to be short (which seems to be the case) it shouldn't be a problem.

Not exactly a genre, but I'd love to write a sub-sysem for 'Machiavellian Schemes'.

John,
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2008, 09:17:01 PM »

If I can get half a dozen interested parties before the end of august, then I'll formally start the contest on September 1.

Week 1 (Monday, Sept 1 - Sun, Sept 7): A week to submit an idea
Week 2 (Monday, Sept 8 - Sun, Sept 14): A week to talk about it and generate a bit of constructive feedback
Week 3 (Monday, Sept 15 - Sun, Sept 21): A week of fine tuning the result
Week 4 (Monday, Sept 22 - Sun, Sept 28): Presentation of final concepts

The final concepts don't have to be anything more than a page or two. If it takes more to really generate a great genre concept then so be it. But the idea is to create a modular add-on, not a complete system in itself.

If I don't get at least half a dozen interested parties then I'll consider the contest to be a novel idea, but just something that not really worth pursuing at this stage...

V

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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
madunkieg
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« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2008, 03:19:24 AM »

...But the idea is to create a modular add-on, not a complete system in itself.

Could you expand a bit more on what you'd consider a "modular add-on?"
Is it an rules expansion/modification to an existing system?
Is it a setting that is rules independent?
Is it something else?
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2008, 07:12:55 PM »

The essence of my idea is in the opening post...

The meta-mechanic should be simple enough that it can be applied to virtually any existing game system to flavour the game and bias it toward a certain style of play.

...

The aim is to pull out the specific rules that help to define a genre and boil them down to their essence...thus making a flavouring agent that can be added to any other game to give it the right genre feel.

This might be as simple as defining a new gauge that can be added to a character sheet and showing how it can influence a character's decisions or agendas. It could be as complex as a multi-page rules insert that creates new relationships and mechanics that favour a certain style of play and tools that can be used to help integrate these concepts into a game.

I'm definitely not after a stand-alone game. I'm just looking for things that can twist an existing game into a new direction. A designer could produce an expansion to specifically bring a new element into a game of Sorceror or My Life with Master, but that's really too narrow for my intentions. I'd much rather something that is rules independent, a simulation system that can be applied to almost any game to emulate a particular genre.

If you can work out a set of rules that really gives a "film noir" feel to a d20 game, then it shouldn't be too hard to pull out the defining characteristics and make a generic system that emulates this.

I don't care if this means using d20's in a game that normally only uses d6s, or if it uses counters, cards, bidding mechanics, cut-up pieces of paper, origami, or anything else for that matter. If it does the job of manifesting the themes and feelings of a particular genre then it counts as a success.

It only needs to be a simple set of additional rules that are fairly simple. Perhaps a system that might be applied to a one-off session during a regular campaign to give a different feeling to the rest of the sessions.

Perhaps this is an impossible task, but I'd be interested in giving it a go, and seeing if other designers can find a way to produce a suitable result.

I realise that this sounds pretty nebulous and it doesn't really narrow down the options, but that's part of the intention. I don't want to impose my preconcieved notions on any prospective designers, when there could be some great options that are excluded if I add too much of my own input.

I hope that helps clarify things...I apologise if it doesn't.

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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
madunkieg
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2008, 09:51:23 PM »

The more I think about it, the more I think I'll pass. I find modifying existing systems to genres they're unsuited for always produce unsatisfactory results, and I don't know of any existing systems that would be suited to any of the genres I'd like to explore. I guess that's part of why I design games.
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2008, 10:34:34 PM »

No problems, and that's a valid response to my challenge.

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2008, 11:08:45 AM »

Can you lay out the particulars?  Are you providing the sub-systems or can we come up with our own?

A month seems like a long, long time. 
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Vulpinoid
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2008, 01:28:35 PM »

My original intention had been to generate a bit of discussion about what genres had been neglected in gaming so far...then choose two or three of these as topics that participants could use as the basis of their genre emulation rules. But since there's been a whole lot less input in this thread than I'f hoped, I may simply end up abandoning the concept as an interesting (but ultimately fruitless) novelty.

V 
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
Paul Czege
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2008, 05:53:22 PM »

I like the idea of the contest, but I think consensus is not the way to go. You need to scope it out with the list of available neglected genres for prospective participants to choose from, and present it as a challenge. Then folks will decide whether to participate or not. You're trying to marshal enthusiasm for something that's partly undefined. What you need to do instead is throw down the gauntlet of a solid challenge.

Paul
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My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
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