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GNS Crisis of Faith

Started by xiombarg, February 04, 2003, 02:08:36 PM

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Paganini

M.J. nailed it, with one addition. You can also use the process in reverse.

GNS attempts to classify *all* potential role-playing decisions. Think of it as a description of a set containing every possible play decision. (This is a lofty generalization, I know, but stick with it.) Once you recognize and understand every type of decision that can possibly be made, you can choose a subset of decisions and design mechanics around them. What mechanic would best encourage *this* particular decision type that I've identified? This is pretty much how Cornerstone worked. Rather than starting with a game, we started with GNS goals and figure out how best to serve them.

I want to ramble about this for a bit if you don't mind. The three big GNS axes (G, N, and S, respectively ;) are really the *end* of the thought process, not the beginig. In order to understand what narrativism is, you have to understand all of sub-compnents that define it.

You don't just say "I want to design a narrativist game!" You look at the subcomponents. You find *definite* goals to choose frome. What premise? How can the mechanics best encourage players to address it? To encourage players, you have to understand about reward systems. To understand reward systems you have to understand currency.

Stance, exploration, currency, and so on are not just interesting ideas loosely associated with GNS. They're the ingredients that GNS is built out of.

Edit: I forgot to mention, Vincent's thread "Egri and Me" and the subthreads thereof is a great example of this kind of thing in action. It's not "how can one make a narrativist game?" It's *very* specific. It's about narrativism, but it's *focused* on addressing premise. Not just on addressing premise, but on a specific way of addressing premise - via a particular kind of character. Mechanics are designed to fit specific goals, not generalizations.

Quote from: Kirt asked:
(Quick digression: Similiar issues drove the Gift system in Unsung, but I'm ashamed to admit I'd never looked at Cornerstone until now. Quick question about Cornerstone: Can you activate a trait that's in the attribute being used for the roll?)

That's up in the air yet. I'm inclined to answer *yes* as of now. We'll see how it goes in the playtest that will, hopefully, occur Real Soon Now. :)

ADGBoss

I have a few comments here and like Kirt its all No HArm no Foul.

First Kirt, I personally focused on your question of (to paraphrase) "How does it help me know what bridge designs to throw out before hand?" When it comes to Game Design, GNS does not. From a player group perspective I think it works perfectly at getting the bugs of play out before hand. However, in design I think it comes up short.

Why? Quite simply it only focuses on on theoretical play.  Till someone, as you and Ron both mentioned, someone crosses the bridge, then you will never know if the game works. What is the ultimate goal of good game design? To create a sound and coherent game and to create a game PEOPLE WILL PLAY. Its not about marketing, getting people to fork over money, but it is about Player Currency ie Time, Money, and Thought.

If you build the ultimate two lane bridge, but it gets built in a country where the people are strange and only like one way bridges, you have failed utterly to satisfy your audience.  Consequently, if you build the Ultimate Narrativist game (in GNS definition) and most role players are Sim or Gamist, then you have also failed.

I think GNS can create a coherent game but it cannot accurately predict audience reaction. You could answer every question posted here, follow all guidelines and create a beautiful game no one wants to play.

Perhaps GNS was never meant to answer the question of "What does the RPG audience want to play and how will they React to my game" and it would be unfair to judge it that way if its never meant to do so.  I just thionk thats it hard to assume if you make a NArrativist game, NArrativist gamers will play it because, well its a perfect (if such a thing exists) Narrativist game.

My second point is that, with reference to the Forge and the RPG community in general, GNS is pretty much the only Industry Tool available. I have mad more then one critic of the Forum and GNS etc admit in the same breath that most of the serious THINKING is happening right here.  I do not think its arrogant to say that nor am I trying to be a sychophant, but one of the many things that drew me here is all the serious thought that goes on.   (also for the most part we are a damn friendly crowd, hard to find on the net)

However, other then some other less well thoguht out fragments, as far as I know GNS is the only serious model of gaming and game design available.  Like Relativity. DDoes it solve every riddle? No it really spawns more questions then it answers but right now, it works pretty well for what we use it for.

Sean
ADGBoss
AzDPBoss
www.azuredragon.com

Mike Holmes

GNS is not at all about predicting what an audience will like. It's about creating mechanics that reach design goals. If your goal is to create a Narrativist game, then GNS theory will help you achieve that. And to the extent that nobody likes an incoherent game, GNS will help you avoid that.

Who knows if people want more Narrativist games? GNS certainly won't tell you.

OTOH, given that I and others here (this is Ron's theory from his recent social series of threads) feel that it's more important to make games that function as we want them to function than to try and figure out what people want, this is a good thing. I and others believe that you can't sell games by predicting the RPG market, and the successful game will be the one that reaches interesting goals in a well designed manner.

That is, design a good Narrativist Game, and people will become Narrativists.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

ADGBoss

Ok I can see that as a possibility but I think that more then GNS concerns go into game design. Certianly it has to be something I want to play as a gamer or else I will not even begin the design process.  I think it also has to have Interest Elements I will call them lay outside strict GNS explanation.

For example: A Narrative game: God of Pineapples
"What is it worth, to you, to grow the greatest pineapples"
No super Powers, No dark conspiracies, no aliens.  Just Pineapple growers.

IS this going to lure people into Narrativist play? I don't think it will BUT I could be wrong about that. Afterall as I recently mentioned I am always intrigued Mike,  by your Paraplegic Photographers idea, which is certianly not main stream.

So perhaps it is worth the theory that "Buil it and they will Come" can work.

Certianly something to think about.

Sean
ADGBoss
AzDPBoss
www.azuredragon.com

Mike Holmes

Quote from: ADGBossI think it also has to have Interest Elements I will call them lay outside strict GNS explanation.
We call it Premise. And, nobody ever said (in fact we've denied repeatedly), that GNS is all you need to know to make a game. It's one thing that can help.

Mike
Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.