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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Alternative theory (or .. brother theory?) to GNS  (Read 1615 times)
Daniel B
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Posts: 171

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« on: November 14, 2008, 03:13:30 AM »

Hi folks,

I see the "Game Design" forum is closed, so I apologize if this post shouldn't be here. I haven't posted much on the Forge but am keenly interested in RPG design since myself and buddies are building one of our own. I'd like to post a link to an article that deals with game design (of a sort), and also suggests ways to tilt games towards a healthier balance (or in the case of pen-and-paper RPGs, one more suitable for the player-group you're with). Such "tiltings" can be incorporated a game design itself, to better orient the game towards it's target audience.

Please note: the article was NOT written by me, the theory is NOT mine, nor was it written about pen-and-paper RPGs. I do not propose it as being better or worse than GNS, just different, although highly related it seems. In fact, I would say that the two theories are virtually the same, but in my opinion Bartle's theory is more encompassing of playstyles. If you disagree, don't shoot me; I'm quite happy to agree to disagree.

http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

The article itself is about online MUDs (multi-user dungeons, as if y'all didn't know the term!), and suggests that the motivations of all players' actions fall within a two-dimensional space. The dimensions are:
  • Player- versus World-oriented, as the extremes of one axis
  • Active versus Interactive play, as the extremes of the other axis

These two dimensions lead to four quadrants:
  • Achiever (world-oriented action)
  • Explorer (world-oriented interaction)
  • Socializer (player-oriented interaction)
  • Killer (so-called; player-oriented action)

As with the three categories of GNS, a player usually doesn't fall into one and only one category. Instead, virtually all players will participate in each of the categories from time-to-time, but they will most definitely have a preferred mix. For example, Bob might favour a game balanced heavily towards Social play, while Sue might prefer a game balanced heavily towards Action (both player- and world-oriented action).

By reading Bartle's article, you may discover, as I have, some strong parallels with the GNS theory. The gamist category very closely associates with achiever domain, and the simulationist category with the explorer domain. The narrativist category and socializer domain are less-closely associated, with the narrativist category being more balanced towards both player- and world-oriented interaction. The "Killer" domain doesn't fit all that well into GNS theory, but most likely fits in the gamist style of play since it involves competition. (In my humble opinion, D&D 4th Edition was built to pander directly to achiever-style play, but also to killers who were unhappy with existing RPGs and satisfy themselves by being better achievers than their teammates, ie by min/maxing.)

Ta,
   ShallowThoughts
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Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
Rauðbjørn
Member

Posts: 10

You think me mad for the things I claim to see...


« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2008, 04:04:31 AM »

Very interesting article, I'm gonna need to think on that for a bit, but so far it sounds good.

Here, Here!  I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds 4th ed to be panderous to the "killer" or gamist player.    Character creation is very similar to WoW online, with different "Class Powers" to choose from, different types and numbers available at intervals, all the way down to different ways to "spec" your character and options at different levels to "re-spec" from earlier variations. 

Minimalist alignments, with no penalties for disobeying them I could find ('cept for men in dresses).  The combat system is like something out of Mortal Combat (the video game).  Only passive saving throws and a spare two dozen catch-all skills.  The entire character sheet (much like 3rd ed) looks like the RPG equivalent of a 1040EZ form.  It's like sombody decided to make D&D for dummies. 

The color & background section of the PHB is about the size of a comic book, and shares the same de-compressed storytelling style.  All I leared was the things suck, and they used to suck not as much, but it's going to suck worse, soon.  Now thats OK for Ravenloft, but not of the main world.  Did no one learn anything from the fall of the Dark Sun line?

I will admit, it's kinda fun, but it's more about roll-playing than role-playing y'know?  I'm not certain it's actually an RPG, but it is definately not D&D (oh Gary, why did you abandon us?).

Sorry, that rant has been building for a while now.

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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2008, 07:03:01 AM »

Hiya,

The categories remind me a lot of Robin's Laws, a treatise on role-players by Robin Laws. What these analyses, and the earliest one I know of (Strike Force, a thoughtful supplement for Champions based on late-70s and early-80s play) all share is a focus on individual preferences that can be satisfied in the context of diverse or general approaches.

That makes them fundamentally different from what GNS (or Creative Agenda, or most broadly, the Big Model) is about, which are desired ways to enjoy role-playing that require group buy-in, over time. With the categories like "Explorer" or whatever, all you need is a little tolerance for the other guy doing his thing as you do yours, and things will mostly be OK. Differences in Creative Agenda preferences (or better, expectations at that particular time) are much, much harder to deal with in the same group, and the resulting play is diminished even if people don't quit.

So yes, the categories are worth talking about and discussing in terms of actual play, but they aren't the same as Creative Agenda (GNS). More like how a particular person decides how to apply himself to<you wanted something else from D&D, and even more importantly, you wanted the other people playing to want that too.

Shallow Thoughts, do you see my point? The Creative Agenda idea is not talking about what a given role-player "is" in terms of describing how they play, it's talking about what play-priorities he or she wants credit for from everyone else, and what play-priorities he or she is willing to give credit for among everyone else.

For both of you, it would be very useful, and I bet you'd get a lot of thinking responses, if you would present your points as they've applied to your experiences, in the Actual Play forum.

Best, Ron
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soundmasterj
Member

Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2008, 07:20:34 AM »

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Jona
soundmasterj
Member

Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2008, 07:26:42 AM »

Wow I think I wrote what Ron wrote, does that mean I "understood" the Big Model?

...

I want a fancy hat proving my GNS Graduation.
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Jona
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2008, 08:06:17 AM »

Will a shared imagined hat do? It will have to: GNS graduation hat.

OK, silly's over. If someone else had posted this, I'd have to moderate him. Back to the discussion, and with any luck, further threads in Actual Play.

Best, Ron
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2008, 09:05:06 AM »

Damn, one more thing - Jona, there is one important correction for your post.

Shared Imagined Space, not "imaginary." This is to emphasize that I'm using imagine as a verb's past participle, not an adjective. The imagining is entirely verbal and responsive. So instead of a thought-space being emphasized, it's an attention-space composed of vectors of communication.

Best, Ron
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soundmasterj
Member

Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2008, 10:00:39 AM »

i]someone<
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Jona
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