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Author Topic: Credibility and System  (Read 1812 times)
Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« on: October 09, 2002, 12:20:16 PM »

Seems like some concensus has formed around the following:

Quote from: lumpley
- Nothing's true in the game until all the players agree that it's true.
- System, mechanics, having a GM and so on are all just ways to get the players to all agree that things are true.

In removing a. from my first point I've implicitly added:
- The game (meaning System, Setting, Situation, Color, Character) can make assertions, which the players then may or may not make true by their assent.


Here are some questions we can kick around in terms of it:

If mechanics and rules are not "making things true" in the game world, what are they doing?  What could they do? And how?  

How can game design be influenced and strengthened by taking this perspective?

Mike Holmes suggested that abuses of GM powers (railroading etc) can be usefully talked about in terms of credibility.

--Emily Care
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Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2002, 12:41:21 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care

If mechanics and rules are not "making things true" in the game world, what are they doing?  


I think of the following 3 things immediately

1) a way for the game designers to insert themselves by proxy into the game.  The game rules "speaks" on their behalf (in a manner similiar to the Trust document discussion from earlier)

2) a time saving device.  Establishing a set of factoids about the game that doesn't require actual in play creation through player statements

3) a shortcut to consensus building, by holding out a set of rules / statements about the world from a "neutral third party" as the authority much in group quibbling can be avoided.  (e.g.  "I don't care what Tolkein says about elves being immortal in D&D they only live for 1200 years tops...it says so right here")
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Mark D. Eddy
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Posts: 157


« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2002, 02:36:06 PM »

Quote from: Emily Care
Seems like some concensus has formed around the following:

Quote from: lumpley
- Nothing's true in the game until all the players agree that it's true.
- System, mechanics, having a GM and so on are all just ways to get the players to all agree that things are true.

In removing a. from my first point I've implicitly added:
- The game (meaning System, Setting, Situation, Color, Character) can make assertions, which the players then may or may not make true by their assent.


Here are some questions we can kick around in terms of it:

If mechanics and rules are not "making things true" in the game world, what are they doing?  What could they do? And how?


Addressing meta-game concerns; i.e., social conventions, resources for play, and playtest notes all seem to fit in the "useful but not making things true" catagory.

Quote
How can game design be influenced and strengthened by taking this perspective?


Perhaps the best advantage to this perspective is that it forces one to keep in mind the people playing the game, not just the author's personal preferences. It also helps with cutting out dross. "Does this mechanic make it easer or harder for people to resolve issues that will come up in play?" "Have I given enough information for people to understand the setting, so that there won't be conflicts based on unfortunate assumptions?" These are the two questions that come immediately to mind when looking at this.

Quote
Mike Holmes suggested that abuses of GM powers (railroading etc) can be usefully talked about in terms of credibility.

--Emily Care


Yes. As can conflicts in terms of character "ownership," (the instance of Bob and the peaches comes to mind here) and other types of IC vs. OOC issues.
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Mark Eddy
Chemist, Monotheist, History buff

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if wyrd is not against him."
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2002, 07:11:46 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
2) a time saving device.  Establishing a set of factoids about the game that doesn't require actual in play creation through player statements


I'd say that it's not time saving in play. Creation on the fly is often faster. What it is is convenient. One does not have to do the creation themselves. And one can read up on these things out of play, which makes their introduction in play much faster. Also, a written version is more likely to create a consensual understanding of certain things, than a discussion is (hence the existence of textbooks for very similar reasons).

Just a clarification, really.

Mike
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Emily Care
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« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2002, 12:00:27 PM »

In our sister thread: Purpose of System/Rules
Quote from: Alan
An elegant set of written rules presents only those rules that "frame" the game enough to give it the distinctive elements developed by the designers. The frame has to leave players enough room to play a field, while also providing the tension that makes the game fun.


This expresses the balance between Valamir's concept of the rules standing in proxy for the author, and Mark's idea of the game designer looking at what will work best for their target audience, rather than just going with "what they like".  

A game designer "frames" a certain set of experiences they find interesting and want to help others explore. Just as a camera  frames a certain part of the visual field, highlighting it to share with others.  

Participants in a game choose a  system because they are interested in the vision of the designer, for the convenience of not having to come up with it themselves, and because they think that the system will be valuable in helping them explore that shared vision.  The "distinctive elements" of the system may or may not do so. What doesn't work will be less credible.  

The system is how the designer frames the experiences they want the gamers to have.  To use another analogy, the mechanics are like a blueprint and tools: they are made by the designer but require conscious application by the game participants.  The framing is now of a house, rather than a photo. :)

Some tools are more suited to certain tasks than others, and there will always be a difference between the plan and the execution.   The goal is to make it healthy space for individual interpretation rather than a dysfunctional misfiring. Clarity of communication and choice of the right tool for the right job become paramount.


--Emily Care
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