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Author Topic: Vive La Resistance or System Doesn't Matter  (Read 11195 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: May 16, 2003, 01:16:10 PM »

Pretty much all of the below grows out of an understanding of the many works of Ron Edwards...and dissent from them.

System Doesn't Matter

As far as I can tell we have a major problem with the presence of two noticeably different, unacknowledged 'audiences' for role-playing games.  I'm going to have to mangle a couple of terms to make this clear.

First of all are the 'hobbyists.'  These are the people who created role-playing games and have played them from the beginning.  It has been shown that the earliest incarnations of Dungeons & Dragons was not so much flawed as incomplete.  This leads to the need to 'add material' in order for it to be playable.  Later editions (and later games), were not so much 'incomplete' as 'broken.'  To be played, these games had to be 'fixed,' customized, or Drifted; a whole traditional grew up around this very fact.  This is not unlike radio-controlled model airplane hobbyists; you know, the kind who go down to the hobby store and buy balsa, paper, and airplane dope when they want to fly something.  These are like the people who put bigger and bigger engines into junk cars.  It doesn't matter that role-playing games are 'broken' to the hobbyists, because they have always expected to make changes.

There is also a long tradition of gaming where people take a published rule system and Drift it to their desires.  I hold out the point that this tradition is met, even today, by designs that are 'incoherent' or 'broken;' these games have what could be called 'an expectation for Drift.'  In ways, these were the first kind of 'customizable' games.  Notably, this kind of design scheme goes all the way back to the beginning of the hobby and it could conjectured that this creates a reasonable expectation that 'this is how it is done' in the minds of the hobbyists.

The second audience is what I call 'consumers.'  These are those people who saw the characters playing Dungeons & Dragons at the beginning of the movie E. T. the Extraterrestrial and went out and got a copy and played it.  These people would have been quickly turned off by rules that needed to be tinkered with, tweaked, or otherwise 'fixed.'  An 'incomplete,' incoherent, or 'broken' game would be nigh useless to them.  I liken them to the consumers who, wanting to fly a radio-controlled airplane, go down to Toys 'R' Us and buy a finished plane.  They buy sports cars instead of building them.  They see 'an expectation of Drift' as an inconclusive or incomplete game.  (I even would speculate that perfected, Transitional role-playing games may not appeal to them, with a caveat centered on a 'flexible' example game mentioned later.)

Now, once 'there was money' in role-playing games, companies evolved to serve this consumer audience.  I have to argue that a lot of what Ron has been saying about "the realignment of the term 'mainstream'" appears to be to this point.  I'd argue that role-playing games that require Drift, tweaking, or possibly even overt Transition will fall outside of this mainstream, no matter how far back or traditional it is.  Furthermore, I'd have to say that it is unimaginable to me that the ultimate market of consumers could be anything but larger than the audience of hobbyists, based on looking at the parallels everywhere else.

The ultimate question you have to ask yourself, as a designer, is "Who do I write for?"  I think it's clear that you can't write for both.  (Not that both won't buy your product, but each will see it differently and treat it as such.)  I think a lot of current design suffers from the illusion that you can write to both; that's why you get games that obviously require Drift or tweaking, yet have a remedial 'what is gaming' introduction.

This confusion usually comes into a conversation regarding the difference between "the role-playing game hobby" and "the role-playing game industry."  Hobbyists quite comfortably buy consumer products and do what they've always done, change 'em; consumers, on the other hand, 'don't seem to get it' about hobbyist-targeted games and abandon them.

I'm gonna go on record as saying that the primary audience of "indie-punk role-playing games" is more hobbyist than consumer-based.  And that's very, very good!  There should always be a healthy fringe element kicking new ideas into 'the mainstream;' the health of "the industry" may depend upon it.  And "the health of the industry" is what makes it possible for a population of 'fringies' to remain viable.  This doesn't mean that either is directly dependant on the other, but that the presence of one begets and supports the other.  If either were to 'die,' I'm sure the other would suffer.

There should also be some recognition that 'selling out' isn't a matter of betraying "indie punk" role-playing game design ideals, but a shift from writing for one group to the other.  (And that you can alternatively write for either at any point during your career.)  This does cause a problem when a designer is 'discovered' (by either side); they need to shift gears quickly or be relegated back to their original population.  It should also deal with some of the acrimony between "indie punk" designers and 'for profit' designers.

This also implies that hobbyist-friendly designing is not good for 'for print, for profit' games and that consumer-friendly designs are not well made when 'high maintenance' is necessary.  Therefore, concern with the structure of the market new or old should require notice of this dichotomy.

It should also be obvious by looking at any hobby/industry; the consumer side of the equation always carries larger numbers in the healthy, sustaining symbiosis.  That being said, it should be obvious that the 'profit potential' of a hobbyist-targeted project is therefore smaller at best, but very rewarding in terms of community and feedback. More money is obviously to be made from the larger audience; hobbyist-targeted design is probably not the best for money-driven success models.  The details of this supposition are left for other threads.

This is the problem with spending so much time using market models to dissuade people of the 'one type of success' ideal (money).  Market models and their comprehension are of great importance to consumer-targeted products, but I'm not sure that these should be the first thing paraded out when discussing 'measures of success.'  In the recent era, I've seen 'measures of success' and 'bringing product to shelves' discussions getting farther and farther separated from each other.  Perhaps 'measures of success' discussions might benefit from more awareness of the different audiences and results of targeting them.

But ultimately the point remains; System Doesn't Matter to hobbyists (and therefore not in all cases).

The Lumpley Principle Misses the Boat

Insert definition here!

While not unimportant and somewhat foundational, this principle may be getting the somewhat problematical reputation of being 'the whole enchilada.'

While important, it is not the most important principle of role-playing game rules; by far, the most important is the concept of "Taking Part" in the role-playing game.

All these new narrative-control-distributing games break the traditional 'imbalance of power' and not only support and empower "Taking Part," but force it frequently in an in-your-face kinda way; each and every one of them underscores the need for participants to all "Take Part."

The second most important Principle is Inspiration.

All the talk about game systems having to be 'specialized to their vision,' that generic systems don't purvey what they present well (because of being 'too capable' of others) grows out of the many ways a role-playing game system can inspire.  I accept that "System Does Matter" grew out of a reaction to the idea that "Only Setting Matters" which is actually the product of lazy designers recognizing this principle (but I still stand by the above).  If saying "System Does Matter" only means that a game should inspire with more than just it's setting, I wonder how worthwhile the message.

The third most important principle is the Communicative or Lumpley Principle.  This is the idea that the role-playing game must also (and that's an absolute must!) make communicating one participant's "Taking Part" to another more effectively.  Flipping this principle to the top of the list makes role-playing game design a very complicated matter indeed, as it only implies "Taking Part," isolated from the rest of these principles.

I'm sure there'll be some disagreement over the particular order; such is the world of opinion; this one is mine.  Suffice to say, I don't think "Taking Part" can effectively collapsed into the Lumpley Principle, nor to I think it should ever take a back seat to it.

Gaming at It's Least

While role-playing gaming is a lot of things (many which cannot be done without), what it is at the most central point is "Getting Caught up in a Feeling."  That's what makes delineating different approaches so hairy.  Feelings and emotions are things everyone has; everyone has an opinion of what kinds they have, but there is precious little consensus on the language to communicate about them.

Different people emotionally identify (knowingly or not) with different things in different ways in gaming.  And these people not always that good at predicting what these are or describing them that well.

What truly matters in this discussion is that, of all the things gaming and analysis of gaming must recognize, the emotional attachments that occur during play cannot be done without.  Without these there is no "Getting Caught Up" and therefore no gaming.  I leave the how, what, and why to another thread, the point is we're not just talking about social contract issues, but issues of emotional engagement and entanglement.  Perhaps that's why there is so much heat in discussions of 'modes of play' and such, being 'close to the heart' and all.

The Great Impossible Thing to Believe Before Breakfast

"The Impossible Thing to Believe Before Breakfast" cannot be stated in such a way that it is literally impossible

This is different from just saying that it is possible; once you've argued it enough, you understand what it is that is actually impossible, and ultimately that remains trivial in each case.

It is only 'impossible' when you try and solve it for every single approach taken to gaming (or style, if you prefer) at the same time.

I've seen quotes of games claiming the impossible, but I've also come to the impression that each of these meant something different than the context-robbed quote.  I'll even go so far as to say I have seen games that go on to claim that both of the contrasting intentions can be facilitated, but even they don't seem to say that it occurs simultaneously.

Believe it or not, I mean that these games are functional, because they are written for the hobbyist market!  If an author includes more than one mode of play in his game, making it "incoherent" by local definition, I say that he respects the hobbyist tradition of Drift and has made a game which not only requires it, but implies that it is perfectly natural.  And for the hobbyist, it is!  (It is highly unfortunate for the reviewer that this 'mechanism of customization' is more implied by tradition than written in the game.)

The mistake made again and again is to assume one homogeneous audience (that's right, a "coherent" audience) that contains at least some consumers.  Fudge doesn't seem to make this mistake; it is quite clearly by, for, and tailored to, hobbyists.  I'm not so sure that "incoherent" is therefore anything but as insulting a term as calling Gamists, "munchkins."  I'd say that calling such designs 'Na´ve Hobbyist' designs is both more accurate and less insulting.  (As long as "hobbyist" is understood to be the stricter definition I've given here.)

Narrativism Still Needs to 'Grow' Some More

Narrativism grew out of hobbyists trying to achieve play that created engaging themes via play with games that did anything but....

It seems to have been originally conceived as an 'up to your elbows' in conscious thematic thought style of play.  It has quite satisfactorily matured beyond that since then.

As significant as this growth has been, it needs to grow significantly further still, if it is going to take its proper place as a consumer product

There doesn't seem to be any other way to achieve this end, other than as it has been evolving on the Forge (heaven knows the Dramatists don't seem to be getting anywhere with it)

One albatross future Narrativist evolution has around its neck is the connection to TITBBB; for Narrativism the answer is relatively simple.  Pick one.  Hide it, embed it, 'out it,' or whatever, but simply make the choice of who decides how things reach a satisfying conclusion.

Ultimately, when Narrativist-targeted (I say that with a wink and a finger pointed at the next section) role-playing games assimilate all the commentary on 'low points of contact' and 'embedded themes,' and really breaks out of the old mold of 'all-are-authors-only mentality' (not really where it is now, but surely a clingy aftertaste) will it come into its own as something common as a consumer game choice.

The GNS Isn't a Design Tool

At the most abstract, from all the sources I've read, the GNS essentially says, "Don't play role-playing games with people who don't play like you do."  I don't really see much point in saying that and it hardly presents much of a tool for designing games.

As a guide for designing games the GNS is hardly worth note.  To use it as such, first one must take the vision of ideal play in the potential design and analyze how it fits the GNS.  For the most part that means figuring out what is 'close, but wrong,' because the GNS is primarily about 'when it's wrong.'  Second, one must ascertain which specific variation or variations within a particular mode fit this; this can be quite complicated by issues of acceptable Drift and hybridization.  Third, one has to 'reverse engineer' what game features will "facilitate" the mode desired, being careful not to 'invite other modes' by making rules to 'exclude' them (thereby implying their usage).  Finally, one has to 'rewrite' this game in a fashion which does not seem as 'backwardly created' as this sequence implies.

Mind you this isn't hard for some of the most talented designers out there, but very many of the others get the impression that the GNS is a good tool for design.  Look at the requirements to make it work: a very, very clear idea of what ideal play should look like including 'near misses;' a quite comprehensive understanding of both the GNS and workable sub-variations and hybrids; an in-depth understanding of the process of facilitation of a mode by the interrelation of rules (single rules don't point at GNS priorities all that well); and some ability to assimilate all of this into a self-dependant role-playing game.

Despite all this being said, the GNS is a very good tool for getting feedback on playtesting; one of the best.  But being an analysis tool for one phase of the 'design-test-design loop' is hardly the way people comprehend the usage of GNS terms in 'designing a Gamist game' or 'designing a Narrativist-facilitating game.'  Perhaps only calling it a 'playtest feedback tool' might alleviate this difficulty.

What's really absent is a set of modes dedicated to design.  Each of the GNS modes contains something like this within it, but as I have seen, extracting it can be difficult at times.  I suspect some of the 'three essays of the GNS' may move them in that direction, but I sense that this will create modes that collectively overlook some crucial possibilities.  Furthermore, in doing this, the "three essays" will beg for a reorientation of the GNS from 'diagnostic tool' to 'design tool.'  I'm not sure it will make that jump considering it's history and the continued need for its diagnostic use.

Now, I'm not in a position to say that I've gotten anywhere at all attempting to create such a 'design model,' but then the Scattershot Approaches haven't really been discussed at any length in this matter.  What I can tell you is that such a 'new model' will be highly important to both Transitional games and consumer products that incorporate more 'flexibility' in application.  (My favorite example of this is The Riddle of Steel, which essentially has the players embed thematic issues into the game through character generation; this is a very flexible approach to 'embedded theme' gaming and yet makes for a very consumer-targeted product.)

(Before you begin agreeing with me in principle, please consider the specifics.)

Let's review.  'System Doesn't Matter' to the hobbyists who founded the medium; they expect to Drift the system and the gameshop isn't the best of the many valid ways of reaching them.  The 'mainstream' is actually made up of consumers who aren't at all afraid of 'experimental' games, but have no interest in Drift; the gameshop is the least likely place to reach the bulk of them.

I could go to a lot of effort to spell all this out in excruciating detail with the ideal of preventing a lot of argument, but you know what?  As far as I can tell that can't be done.  I know we both can see what I wrote and I know what I meant.  Pick apart the wording and I'm sure we can easily fall into arguing taxonomy for weeks, but hey, I've got an idea.  Why not try and understand my point, the spirit of my message, and then we can work out how we agree or disagree?  Arguing over words might be comforting ("Ha, I proved you didn't say what I thought you said!"), but is ultimately a very slow way of reaching a point where we are both aware of our possibly contradictory opinions.

Since I'm not asking you to agree with me, don't force it.  Since I'm not saying that mine is the only correct answer, 'proof' is of limited value (especially since said 'proof' must first be interpreted by the party offering it).  I present an interpretation of matters that have rubbed me the wrong way for some time in as direct as fashion as possible.  I don't mean to 'spill blood' here, I'm just putting things in their simplest form; I suppose I could have beaten around the bush on all of these topics over weeks in some vain attempt to convince others, but to what end?

Either you'll agree with my interpretations or you'll disagree with me.  My presentation is merely food for thought, perhaps to inform your opinion more.

I'm happy to engage in discourse on these points that I better illustrate them, but I am not interested in summary denouncements (nor should I respond to such); if all you want to say is, "that's not true," without offering to discuss why, I'm not sure your point in posting it.

Fang Langford

p. s. Because of an expectation of the unpopularity of the ideas presented in this article, I am hosting it in the Scattershot forum.  I request that any threads directed at these ideas (not just the questions that they raise) be subsequently posted here as well.
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greyorm
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« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2003, 11:10:14 AM »

Sorry, "System Doesn't Matter" on a Design Level to hobbyists. System will influence play, and thus the experince of play...since there is no such thing as "standard play" (as clearly shown with or without GNS), each individual is going to have a different preference for play which may or may not be met by the system they chose to utilize.

Hence, system does indeed matter, whether or not you care about it.  A well-designed system will not have to be altered for a hobbyist who enjoys the style of play it provides. Trying to argue that it won't matter is...well, to put it in a word, inane.

In fact, I think you've completely and utterly missed the point of the "System Does Matter" essay with this reading and critique of it.

Keep in mind, if Herbie didn't have to make all those changes to the system, then "imagine how good he'd be if he didn't have to spend all that time culling the mechanics...I'm suggesting a system is better insofar as, among other things, it doesn't waste Herbie's time."

As to your other statements, you have either "boiled everything down" to the point where you aren't even arguing against the thing -- only YOUR CONCEPTION THEREOF -- as well as engaging in some questionable rhetoric about "hobbyists" and "incoherency" and so forth: ie, "Everyone plays this way, so its good because they like it, and hence the design works!" or rather, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

That sort of logic has been overturned in the past, and not merely in RPG design, in that such isn't about fixing, but improving and advancing an already working product to the next stage of its evolution.

That is, clubs were "just fine" as hunting instruments, until someone raised the bar with a pointy stick.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Garbanzo
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« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2003, 11:58:12 AM »

Raven-

I agree with you that anyone, regardless of label, regards time wasteage as a bad thing.

From my read, though, Fang's arguing that Herbie (as a hobbyist) doesn't regard system-tinkering as a waste of time, but instead something enjoyable.  Herbie expects to alter every system he comes across and sees this as a desirable aspect of the hobby.

Certainly, system influences play.  And hobbyists are not excepted from this.  But Fang's hobbyist will tinker and possibly needs to tinker for maximal enjoyment.  

Clearly, the statement that "system doesn't matter (at all)" is incorrect - and I don't think that's what Fang's arguing.  Instead, I read him as saying "System Doesn't Matter to hobbyists," where a hobbyist is more-or-less defined as those for whom a tightly-constructed and blisteringly coherent game doesn't offer as much.

Do you feel that these folks simply don't exist in sufficient numbers to be worth discussing?

-Matt
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2003, 01:28:16 PM »

Hi guys,

Matt's right on it (so much that I don't need to say any more, well done), but I felt it important to use a point of argument best to raise hackles to make a point.  That I can cause anyone to misunderstand the point that Matt understood by deliberately using the words, "System Doesn't Matter" is the larger point I feel needs to be made.  Too many people have too much emotion invested in the three little words and not the concepts they talk about.

My real point is that there are two kinds of people playing these games.  One group has an ingrained expectation of Drift going back to the first of these games.  The other has little understanding of how that would be done.  The essay I chose to take shots at doesn't acknowledge this difference (well, not very clearly) and this has lead a lot of its adherents to seem completely at a loss that 'incoherent' games sell so well.

I am trying to raise the bar here.  I'm saying that analyzing 'old games' will only get you so far and that that is encumbered by the fact that the bulk of 'old games' and traditional play is primarily Hobbyist.  In order to reach for what Ron has correctly redubbed "the mainstream" we need to realize that they only respond to "System Does Matter" games and that, when behaving as Hobbyists, the 'old gamers' won't respond to them.  Building a game with both of these audiences in mind leads to an effect parallel to preventing 'Gamist Drift' (where you put rules in that are meant to prevent Gamists from 'wrecking it for everybody else' and those rules turn into an invitation for Gamists); there's this inclination in some designs to attempt to make them 'impossible to Drift' (not many, but enough to make me consider it).

I'm advocating reaching 'the new mainstream' in new and unthoughtof ways and that, to find them, we may need to put "System Does Matter" in the copilot position (still very important, but not in charge).

Quote from: greyorm
Trying to argue that it won't matter is...well, to put it in a word, inane.

...You've completely and utterly missed the point...

...As well as engaging in some questionable rhetoric...

Nice insults, did I strike a nerve?  Let's keep this civil shall we?

Fang Langford
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greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2003, 03:09:55 PM »

Sorry, no, I don't buy it.
This argument is predicated on the existance of two currently mythical beasts: first, the traditional gamer, called here "the Hobbyist" who likes to tinker, nay, MUST tinker! The second, that incoherent games sell so well to these folks because they like to tinker.

Yet when you realize that the majority of gamers have no experience of the hobby outside these systems, you realize you cannot judge what those people want and like, because they have nothing to compare it to, nor is the existance of "the hobbyist" even proven!

Let us suppose there is a land where only apples grow, and the people have never sampled oranges, nor even know of oranges. To argue that of course the people of this land like apples because everyone eats them is circular. Whether or not they do is moot, because there is no basis for comparison: the majority have never eaten an orange, and thus what they like -- between apples and oranges -- cannot be fairly judged.

Of course, the RPG situation is much more complex than this analogy, but it serves to illustrate the fundamental problem with the logic backing the Hobbyist argument.

No, Fang, they aren't insults. Take them as such if you like to, but they remain valid counterpoints: my read of your statements leaves me with nothing to consider but that you did miss the point of the essays in question, and that you did engage in questionable rhetoric.

Surely, GNS is not merely about "Don't play role-playing games with people who don't play like you do." There is quite obviously a great deal more to it than that; your 'boiled down' statement willfully misrepresents the theory -- hence my calling your examination of it "rhetoric."

As to TITBB -- I had thought it was firmly established fairly recently that TITBB was not a problem because it does not exist, but pointed to the problem itself: that of unclear text providing guiding statements which lead nowhere, or rather, which may be interpreted in multiple ways (when such multiple interpretation is not the author's intent).

If you can't accept judgements of your statements, then don't post such for criticism.

Did you strike a nerve? No. Not in the way you'd expect.
The nerve you hit with me was one of simple logic. I failed to be convinced by your criticisms because of the gaping holes I perceive in their structure, not to mention (as I said) the questionable desconstruction of broad theory into simple (and quite obviously incorrect) phrases.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2003, 04:12:44 PM »

I'm with the Reverend.

I should be in your "hobbyist" category. Goodness, I've been playing since 1980, and have published my own game. I must be one of those who loves to tinker, and who buys incomplete or broken games so I can fix them. Look at all the fixes on my http://www.mjyoung.net/dungeon/">D&D pages. Obviously I love to tinker with games.

But I never regarded OAD&D as broken, or even really as incomplete in the sense you seem to imply. I thought there were things that my gaming group was headed into that were not covered by the rules, but this was not because the rules were in some sense incomplete--rather because we pushed the envelope. I've played board games in which someone had to make an interpretation of how to handle a situation that arose that the rules failed to foresee; I don't see that as a broken or incomplete board game.

I didn't write Multiverser because I wasn't happy with the games I'd seen. I wrote it because someone brought a great game idea to me and asked if I could make it work. I'd created two board games before that, not because I regarded all board games as broken but because I had ideas that I thought would make for interesting board games.

So I'm not the hobbyist tinkerer. Maybe he exists, but I don't think there are so many in that category as you seem to believe. Nor am I really the consumer you suggest.

As my brother loves to say, there are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide all the people in the world into two kinds and those who don't. Your categories don't work. System does matter for everyone, and most of them don't fit into your categories.

Interesting challenge to the theory, but in the end I think it falls short.

--M. J. Young
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2003, 06:45:53 PM »

Hey guys,

I really appreciate the time and effort you're taking to challenge my presentation.  It's obvious I need to clarify a few things.  Furthermore, despite the viewpoints you espouse, I don't think this is a "I'm right, you're wrong" kinda thing.  This is a 'here is what I think' kinda thing.  There is nothing to prove, but I would like to make sure I don't ignore real issues in my opinion.  So let's set aside ideas like 'me selling this idea' or 'challenging the establishment.'  If anything, I calling for people to think about what they believe and not simply cite dogma.

Quote from: greyorm
This argument is predicated on the existence of two currently mythical beasts: first, the traditional gamer, called here "the Hobbyist" who likes to tinker, nay, MUST tinker! The second, that incoherent games sell so well to these folks because they like to tinker.

I remain convinced that it is not a myth that there are people who...how can I describe it?  Don't fully respect the 'whole package' of a system; they see no problem 'making system up' or 'ignoring system' to suit what they do in role-playing games.

Secondly, I guess I don't think I know why incoherent games sell.  I probably never will and I don't feel comfortable saying that I think I know.  However, sell they do and that very much seems to fly in the face of the whole of the "System Does Matter" rhetoric.  Were this essay so easy to believe wouldn't it be evident in that incoherent systems wouldn't be selling?  I'm not saying I know why they sell, but their staying power must say something about whether "System Does Matter," don't you think?

Likewise, on the Hobbyist issue; who's playing all these selling incoherent systems?  Are they not people who are adept at Drift?  I will have to back down from the idea that they feel literally compelled to make Drift, you've made that point well, but I still hold that these buyers don't seem to have the least problem making Drift happen.  I see that as an absence of boundaries between buyer and designer there.

However, in denying the possibility of 'another audience,' aren't you effectively saying one of two things?[list=1][*]Drift is so easy that everyone can do it without thinking.

[*]Role-playing games only appeal to people who are at least 'part designer.'[/list:o](Unless you can suggest another possibly I'm not seeing.)

There's a problem here though.  If #1 is true, then "System Does Matter" only as 'a suggestion' of how to play.  This is because few would ever follow the idea that they should follow the rules as best they can because 'changing them' comes so easily.

If #2 is the case, then a similar feature happens because again the only audience for role-playing games feels that part of play is partly design.

And both of these situations suggest that "System Does Matter," but not very much.  I don't think that's what the essay says at all.  I believe this well-reasoned piece says that system is a hardy and strong component to the gaming experience, that it shouldn't be demoted in favor of the 'flavor of the month' setting piece.

I also think that means that for as many people that "System Does Matter" to implicitly, unconsciously, or obviously, there must a small group for whom it does not (at least part of the time).  The article itself virtually guarantees this split.  That there are some for whom 'System Doesn't Matter' is true, then the fervor surrounding the essay should be tempered by the recognition of this group.

This was my point "System Does Matter," but not for everyone or not all the time.  (I believe, had I started this thread with that, I would have been either ignored or dismissed.)

Quote from: greyorm
Surely, GNS is not merely about "Don't play role-playing games with people who don't play like you do." There is quite obviously a great deal more to it than that; your 'boiled down' statement willfully misrepresents the theory -- hence my calling your examination of it "rhetoric."

I very much agree (I guess you missed that implication).  This particular point is aimed at the dogmatic use of an otherwise excellent essay.  Recently, I've begun to plum the possibilities of using design schemes for role-playing games 'in the box that is outside' of the choices a designer makes of GNS or 'creative agenda' (in the sense of it being the 'what do you do' of a game).  Quite bluntly, and without much justification, I was told this what nothing more remarkable than citation of "System Does Matter."

Well, I went back and read it, not just once.  You know, it's a pretty short piece.  It talks about the proffered myth (that only 'Setting Matters'), establishes the GNS, mentions DFK, covers a bit about search and handling time, and sets down 'an old tradition.' The summation tells us to look past "What I Like" into these issues, talks about 'appropriateness' of resolution methods with a game's 'creative agenda,' and mentions thematic use of novelties in a system. After that it shoots down another old argument and closes with a warning 'to not misunderstand.'  It's actually quite good at laying out the preliminary architecture of the Forge.  I'm quite happy with it and couldn't agree more.

As a designer and potential publisher, I agree that "System Does Matter."  If I didn't I would effectively be saying the what I do or create doesn't matter.  However, the way this essay is being thrown around recently, you'd think that all the critical game design thought was done.  That no new ideas or new perspectives had any value whatsoever.  Further, that there was never a case that "System Doesn't Matter."

I don't see it that way.  I believe there are times and people for whom this essay isn't valid for.  The way it is being cited implies that these don't exist.  That's the problem I am naming here.  It's not a problem with the essay, my understanding of it, or our agreement of it.  I'm just saying 'not always.'  That doesn't seem to unreasonable, does it?

Further, I know this sounds like I'm contradicting myself, that those times shouldn't be allowed to affect how people design.  That's right, I'm saying that everyone should design as though "System Does Matter."  What I've been noticing is that in the ignorance of the people who are excluded from the essay, the Hobbyists if you will, some designers seem to be attempting to make their games 'Drift-proof.'  I want this quality, and the potential existence of Hobbyists, to be recognized and to prevent this 'Drift-proofing' as much as I'd like to see people get away from trying to 'Gamist-proof' their designs.

Quote from: greyorm
As to TITBB -- I had thought it was firmly established fairly recently that TITBB was not a problem because it does not exist, but pointed to the problem itself: that of unclear text providing guiding statements which lead nowhere, or rather, which may be interpreted in multiple ways (when such multiple interpretation is not the author's intent).

I guess I missed that.  Sorry if I wasted your time repeating it.  (And I just wanted to add that the "unclear text" works but only for those people not covered by "System Does Matter" dogma - not the essay itself, but the dogmatic citation of it.)

Quote from: M. J. Young
I should be in your "hobbyist" category...Obviously I love to tinker with games.

But I never regarded OAD&D as broken, or even really as incomplete in the sense you seem to imply.

Thanks for this clarification.  I don't want to suggest that Hobbyists are motivated by clear problems, that they only like 'broken stuff.'  More I meant that they have been making the same kinds of changes, additions, and omissions that you've done for so long, they don't notice anymore.  The go into any game with the unconscious attitude that 'it'll be alright, I'm good at this.'  I'm suggesting that when they run into a rule that they don't understand or doesn't make sense to them at that moment, they just 'fiddle with it.'

It's that lack of regard that denotes them.  And makes them dangerous!  If you are designing a really cool game, short, tight, and complete, and then you start second-guessing these people, trying to prevent misunderstandings or make the game 'Drift-proof,' I think you'll mess up what was otherwise a fine thing.  (I know I suffer from that frequently.)

Acknowledgement of this group, and that effect, means that we can't dogmatically say that "System Does Matter."  It means we need to think about it each time we rely upon it.  I know I've been a little naughty claiming a point that I'm obviously not supporting, but I thought this sub-point important enough to start an argument to gain recognition for it.

Quote from: M. J. Young
So I'm not the hobbyist tinkerer. Maybe he exists, but I don't think there are so many in that category as you seem to believe.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think there are all that many Hobbyists left anymore.  I do think they've left a very obvious footprint on the industry and I'm doing my best to point out that we shouldn't let our work be affected by that (anymore, and technically I see that implied but not spelled out enough in "System Does Matter").  I see this as a crucial 'first step' towards design for 'the new mainstream.'  First we must give up 'how we've always done things' because it seems those aren't working.  Acknowledging 'the footprint' and learning to not concentrate any effort on 'Drift-proofing' new designs makes a definite step in a new direction (or at least not in the old one).

Quote from: M. J. Young
Your categories don't work. System does matter for everyone, and most of them don't fit into your categories.

Interesting challenge to the theory, but in the end I think it falls short.

Thank you.  That was exactly the effect I desired.  I wanted this to be the beginning of the discussion not the end.  I designed it to fall as short as my understanding does so that new perspectives could be created.  (And I'm naughty for constructing it to draw the attention of the inveterate arguers out there.)  I'm not here to argue the point, but to discuss it.  If my 'challenge' didn't fall short, all we'd be doing is arguing, not building.

Fang Langford
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clehrich
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« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2003, 10:21:07 PM »

Surely the proof that these hobbyists still exist is Heartbreakers, of whatever genre.  I mean, the whole point of a Heartbreaker is that it's basically an attempt to make coherence out of incoherence.

Fang, can I ask, how do you see this correlating with what you've said about genre and realism and so forth?  I think I disagree with you on that, but that discussion has gotten so swamped by silliness that I'm just trying to make an end-run around it at this point.
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Chris Lehrich
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2003, 07:00:00 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur
I remain convinced that it is not a myth that there are people who...how can I describe it?  Don't fully respect the 'whole package' of a system; they see no problem 'making system up' or 'ignoring system' to suit what they do in role-playing games.

However, sell they do and that very much seems to fly in the face of the whole of the "System Does Matter" rhetoric.  Were this essay so easy to believe wouldn't it be evident in that incoherent systems wouldn't be selling?

I'll hit these two right now, since I already know what I'm going to say and I have a few minutes -- I want to think about the rest.

In regards to the first statement, yes, such people do exist, I agree. There are people who like apples. The problem is that in the given market you cannot seperate out those who actually like apples as compared to oranges.

In regards to the second statement, if all that's on the market is apples, or people only know about apples, then how many apples sell is not indicative of whether people like or do not like apples.

Case in point, Microsoft. Most people hate Microsoft. Everyone uses Microsoft. Why? The answers are manifold: good marketing; utility of other platforms; availability of other platforms. But the answer is not because Microsoft produces a superior product, nor does OS/programming/tech-stuff not matter to some people.

In fact, Drift is precisely why System Does Matter. If it didn't, you wouldn't see the high levels of Drift you are talking about.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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Bankuei
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2003, 07:09:35 AM »

Hi Fang,

I highly disagree with your method of "opening discussion" with this, since it seems to have lead to a lot of confusion about what you're trying to discuss.  It seems as if much of your statements are designed to garner attention just so that you can say this:  

1) There exist folks who want to play as-is, and folks who want to customize games to their tastes.  
2) Designers should not try to "tinker-proof" their games.

All I can say is;  

#1 is pretty obvious.  I think all game designers start as the hobbyist/customizer sorts who realize that building from scratch may serve their needs better.

#2 is an empty sort of point.  There's no way to make sure anyone plays the game "your way" once it leaves your hands, so I don't understand why this would be a concern.

Overall Fang, I'm not exactly sure what is the "big point" you're making here.  I'm also not sure what you're trying to discuss.

As far as the point of "System doesn't always matter", I think you're changing the context of the idea here.  To use your car comparison, the engine may not matter in terms of why someone is buying it or using that car, but the engine matters in terms of how it operates and runs.  These two are not the same sort of "matters".

Again, Fang, I don't think anyone here is clear on what you are saying, and until you clarify your point, useful discussion isn't really going to emerge.

Chris(lost on this one)
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2003, 07:43:12 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
Can I ask, how do you see this correlating with what you've said about genre and realism and so forth?  I think I disagree with you on that, but that discussion has gotten so swamped by silliness that I'm just trying to make an end-run around it at this point.

Not to derail this topic (this isn't involved here), but what got me started in the first place was noticing the number of foundering games out there that seemed to have a disconnect between their Baseline and the additional Genre Expectations.  The Tension was non-existent.  Further that they then focused all their attention on perfecting their Baseline; this makes the additional Genre Expectations appear like an afterthought and the absence of Tension left little to Explore.

At first I tried to say that more attention needed to be paid to the Tension, as a source of dynamic play, but I mistakenly called it Aesthetics or Source Material (BIG MISTAKE!).  Later I dropped the 'what was wrong with other games' approach and made a strike at exposing 'the black box' that made attention to the Tension as conscious an issue as attention to the 'creative agenda' (the 'what you do' and 'how you do it' of the game).  I tried to discuss how one chooses and applies a 'design scheme' to all issues relevant to design; GNS choice, 'creative agenda,' system, format, presentation, Genre Expectation, and you name it.

I ran into 'the chicken and the egg' complex, where most people make the design scheme subordinate to facilitating play and I make 'creative agenda' subordinate to design scheme.  Further, I've found that many don't seem able to conceive of doing it any other way, take it as some kind of attack on their prefered method, and try to dismiss design schemes as nothing more than an obvious point from "System Does Matter."

I really respect "System Does Matter" and think it has a lot of great material in it, but I have serious problems attributing all design issues to its actual content (as opposed to connecting to the motivating force behind the essay).  That's how I seem them relate.

I see the existence of Heartbreakers the same as I see all those unpublished manuscripts floating around my writer friends; people just want to see what they think is best in print.  What I'm talking about above isn't so much that Heartbreakers exist, but that some sell.  Or more directly that other Incoherent Products do (not everything that is Incoherent is 'trying to fix something else' - I thought the description of a Heartbreaker).  I can't begin to know why they sell, but I do see that the fact that they sell means that somehow "System Does Matter" is missing something.  (Id est, if "System Does Matter" shouldn't it be true that these things wouldn't sell?  I don't know what or why.)

Now it's possible that many Heartbreakers arise because of the intuitive sense of Incoherence, but few actually solve it, seeing rules tweaks as the avenue of change.  I don't know that.  The fact remains that Incoherence sells; who to?  There must be people who turn Incoherence into coherence and for them, I suggest that 'System Doesn't Matter.'

Now, the whys and wherefores aren't really important to me, the fact that I see Coherence-dedicated designers making some attempt to 'Drift-proof' their games to the point of ruining the focus of their design scheme, bothers me.  Now the only reason I can surmise is that they have a sense of this 'other audience' for who Incoherence isn't the least bit problem (as a threat to rules adherence and therefore a threat to the integrity of their games).  The only solution I can see is to start a dialogue about this 'other audience,' the larger role of gaming texts (beyond the Lumpley Principle), what gaming is for above all these issues and above the creative agenda, and some other related issues.

I saw a need to pierce a lot of the dogmatic and reactionary discussions on the Forge.

Fang Langford
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2003, 07:57:03 AM »

Quote from: greyorm
In regards to the first statement, yes, such people do exist, I agree. There are people who like apples. The problem is that in the given market you cannot seperate out those who actually like apples as compared to oranges.

I hope this doesn't come as a surprise, but I whole-heartedly agree.  What I'm getting at is should the 'orange vendor' spend all their time 'disappling' their oranges?  Or should they concentrate╣ on enhancing and selling the 'orangeness' of them?

Quote from: greyorm
In regards to the second statement, if all that's on the market is apples, or people only know about apples, then how many apples sell is not indicative of whether people like or do not like apples.

In fact, Drift is precisely why System Does Matter. If it didn't, you wouldn't see the high levels of Drift you are talking about.

But doesn't adding 'anti-Drift' material often diffuse or potentially ruin an otherwise good game?  Won't acknowledging 'the other audience' make it simpler to say 'what are you trying to prevent?'

Just my question.

Fang Langford

╣ "Orange" "concentrate" get it?
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2003, 08:15:05 AM »

Hey Chris,

Quote from: Bankuei
I highly disagree with your method of "opening discussion" with this, since it seems to have lead to a lot of confusion about what you're trying to discuss.  It seems as if much of your statements are designed to garner attention

I'm sorry if you don't like how I presented them.  My motivation has to do with the smack-downs I've suffered recently out of the dogmatic use of "System Does Matter."  I try to talk about 'how to choose' System for a game and what happens?

I've had this happen three times now.  If that's gonna be the prevailing way things are around here...I can play that way too.  I'm flexible.

Quote from: Bankuei
1) There exist folks who want to play as-is, and folks who want to customize games to their tastes.  
2) Designers should not try to "tinker-proof" their games.

All I can say is;  

#1 is pretty obvious.  I think all game designers start as the hobbyist/customizer sorts who realize that building from scratch may serve their needs better.

#2 is an empty sort of point.  There's no way to make sure anyone plays the game "your way" once it leaves your hands, so I don't understand why this would be a concern.

That's not an empty point at all.  If there is "no way to make sure," should we just sit by when people try to?

Quote from: Bankuei
Overall Fang, I'm not exactly sure what is the "big point" you're making here.  I'm also not sure what you're trying to discuss.

The "big point" is that recently people have been simply invoking any of the things I listed in the beginning of this thread and then expecting discussion and disagreement to simply melt away.  I don't get it.  These issues are far from 'done' and I sought to raise points about each that remain to be discussed.

Quote from: Bankuei
As far as the point of "System doesn't always matter", I think you're changing the context of the idea here.  To use your car comparison, the engine may not matter in terms of why someone is buying it or using that car, but the engine matters in terms of how it operates and runs.  These two are not the same sort of "matters."

Really?  When I read the actual text of "System Does Matter" I see a partial list of automobile components and systems, but no mention of overall design schemes.  I talk about such and the reaction I get is that 'its already covered.'  Well I don't see how and think that there should be more separation between the essay "System Does Matter" and the concept of the importance of System in game design (they aren't the same thing).

Quote from: Bankuei
I don't think anyone here is clear on what you are saying, and until you clarify your point, useful discussion isn't really going to emerge.

So I'm supposed to guess what they don't get?  That's as bad as "tinker-proofing" a game.  I expect people who aren't clear on what I'm saying to ask questions, like you have.  Have I cleared anything up?

Fang Langford
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Bankuei
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« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2003, 09:44:44 AM »

Hi Fang,

My only issue with your method of presentation is that you've made several partial-points, baiting folks to argue, so you can drop the other foot.  This is wonderful in debate, and perhaps a sometimes teaching device, but also very insulting to your audience.  Perhaps I'm the only one who sees it that way, and you can just write me off as reading too much into it if that's the case.  We'll just note that I'm not happy with it and drop that issue and move on to the actual discussion.

Quote
That's not an empty point at all. If there is "no way to make sure," should we just sit by when people try to?


I don't understand how anyone could possibly prevent drift/modification/or alternate play in any fashion...the best you can do is try to communicate "how you should play it" and beyond that, its out of your hands.  Its the same thing as the warning on toaster ovens, "Not for use in the bathtub", what are you going to do beyond that?  Stop making toasters?

The point is, we have no choice about it.  It's not as if we can magically become the "Game Police" and bug everyone's game, "Hey! You're not playing right!" kick in the door and such.  If that was the case, you'd see Ron at most of everyone's first Sorcerer game.

If your point is that folks shouldn't have to have 3 page essays in their games hand-holding folks telling them, "How this game should be played...", I agree wholeheartedly.  But aside from that, I'm not sure what difference it makes whether someone tries to "drift-proof" a game or not, it is a futile process.

Quote
Really? When I read the actual text of "System Does Matter" I see a partial list of automobile components and systems, but no mention of overall design schemes. I talk about such and the reaction I get is that 'its already covered.' Well I don't see how and think that there should be more separation between the essay "System Does Matter" and the concept of the importance of System in game design (they aren't the same thing).
Quote


What I see with GNS is a question along the lines of "What is this vehicle supposed to do?" and "How well does it do it?"  

As far as what I am receiving from what you are saying is that you are frustrated with people shutting you down based on dogma.  Fair enough.  That seems more like a social issue between you and whoever is aggravating you rather than a discussion issue on game theory(although they may be using game theory as their dogma, a closed mind will never see past its dogma).

Right now, you've given me the points listed above, argued that the engine doesn't matter to someone buying a car on the basis of color, and given nothing concrete or solid in terms of the areas you want to explore.  Redefining functional does not disprove that a hammer makes a poor saw("Look at how well it hammers!" "I needed a saw!").

To ask you for more elaboration:

1) System doesn't matter(in some people's choice of what to play/not play)
Ok, so where is going to go?  Are there designs that better facilitate hobbyist modification?(I'd say yes)  What factors are involved?

2) Please explain and give me an example of something that has, or attempted to "drift proof" a game, and how it has functioned.  If someone can successfully do so, then we have a tool to help folks focus the gameplay experience they are designing for, if they want to take that route.

3)Taking Part, Inspiration, Communication-

Open and listening, elaborate.

4)Narrativism Still Needs to 'Grow' Some More

Not sure how Narrativism currently isn't a marketable "consumer" product.  Tell me.

Chris

Chris
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2003, 06:26:36 PM »

Quote from: Bankuei
My only issue with your method of presentation is that you've made several partial-points, baiting folks to argue, so you can drop the other foot.  This is wonderful in debate, and perhaps a sometimes teaching device, but also very insulting to your audience.  Perhaps I'm the only one who sees it that way, and you can just write me off as reading too much into it if that's the case.  We'll just note that I'm not happy with it and drop that issue and move on to the actual discussion.

The other shoe?  Well, admittedly the "System Does Matter" one did have 'another shoe,' but the 'apparent shoe' on all the others don't exist.  I really do see issues on all of those; partial points was all I could make.  I was hoping for a little discussion to be what would make the points.

I collected them consciously because so many of them are being treated as 'in the can.'  Those topics are 'done' it seems; well, I don't buy it.  Lumpley Principle?  Not enough.  Top priority of gaming?  No one like discussing it.  Great Impossible Thing?  Rare (okay, I didn't know this one had been worked out, I missed some meetings).  Narrativism?  Great, but could be greater.  GNS for design?  Maybe for playtest; can we make something better?  Yes, these are partial points, but the parts I want to see worked out collectively; I felt the went together in this way because of how often I see conversations shut down with them.

Quote from: Bankuei
Quote from: Le Joueur
That's not an empty point at all. If there is "no way to make sure," should we just sit by when people try to?

I don't understand how anyone could possibly prevent drift/modification/or alternate play in any fashion...

The point is, we have no choice about it....

If your point is that folks shouldn't have to have 3 page essays in their games hand-holding folks telling them, "How this game should be played...", I agree wholeheartedly.  But aside from that, I'm not sure what difference it makes whether someone tries to "drift-proof" a game or not, it is a futile process.

Then we're right on the same page, but how often have you seen anyone say, "don't bother trying to Drift-proof it," or "it's a good game mired in Drift-proofing."  I don't see as many short games attempting it, but all this "System Does Matter" rhetoric has engendered not just a few discussions how to write 'against' Drift.

I'm not saying, "Drift-proof all games!"  I'm saying, "Warn against Drift-proofing!"  So we're in agreement here.

Quote from: Bankuei
Quote from: Le Joueur
Really? When I read the actual text of "System Does Matter" I see a partial list of automobile components and systems, but no mention of overall design schemes. I talk about such and the reaction I get is that 'its already covered.' Well I don't see how and think that there should be more separation between the essay "System Does Matter" and the concept of the importance of System in game design (they aren't the same thing).

What I see with GNS is a question along the lines of "What is this vehicle supposed to do?" and "How well does it do it?"  

As far as what I am receiving from what you are saying is that you are frustrated with people shutting you down based on dogma.  Fair enough.  That seems more like a social issue between you and whoever is aggravating you rather than a discussion issue on game theory (although they may be using game theory as their dogma, a closed mind will never see past its dogma).

Right now, you've given me the points listed above, argued that the engine doesn't matter to someone buying a car on the basis of color, and given nothing concrete or solid in terms of the areas you want to explore.  Redefining functional does not disprove that a hammer makes a poor saw ("Look at how well it hammers!" "I needed a saw!").

That's partly because I'm not getting many good questions with all the shut downs to help me clarify what I'm trying to say.  Let's try this way; there are a number of design perspectives out there.  GNS/'creative agenda' is the pragmatic, 'how does this directly support play' fashion.  What about a different perspective that takes the game as a whole into consideration and the GNS/'creative agenda' is an important, but not all encompassing, design element.  Like this, an engine may not matter to the 'car color buyers,' but the designer knows they won't leave without one; isn't it possible to employ a different design scheme than "supposed to do" and "how well," like 'multiple systems integrity' or 'echoes the Tension?'  Or, aren't there valid design practices beyond pragmatic?

And why is it the second I suggest that practicality doesn't need to be 'in the pilot's seat' the usual response implies I've 'thrown it from the plane?'

Quote from: Bankuei
To ask you for more elaboration:[list=1][*]System doesn't matter (in some people's choice of what to play/not play)

Ok, so where is going to go?  Are there designs that better facilitate hobbyist modification? (I'd say yes)  What factors are involved?

[*]Please explain and give me an example of something that has, or attempted to "drift proof" a game, and how it has functioned.  If someone can successfully do so, then we have a tool to help folks focus the gameplay experience they are designing for, if they want to take that route.

[*]Taking Part, Inspiration, Communication-

Open and listening, elaborate.

[*]Narrativism Still Needs to 'Grow' Some More

Not sure how Narrativism currently isn't a marketable "consumer" product.  Tell me.[/list:o]

By the numbers:[list=1][*]Fudge stands out to me as one of the clearest Hobbyist games (and maybe 'corebook GURPS'), but let me ask you this: which is the larger audience, Hobbyists or people who don't like needing to Drift?  (Doesn't Drift-proofing do them a disservice?)

For once, I'd like to talk about designing for the 'non-Hobbyist' audience without getting into issues of Drift, because I see those as a non-issue for the 'non-Hobbyists.'

[*]You've got me there, I can't think of an extant game.  What I do see is railing against games that are incoherent and then dead-ending conversations about 'laser-focusing' coherency as though that will prevent the Drift that happens to be necessary in an Incoherent game.  No one seems to have successfully done so.

But the problem isn't that.  It's how those conversations go from discussing an Incoherent game (which must be Drifted) to some aimless conversation about going to the opposite extreme (a 'really focused' game design would idealize Drift-proofing, even if it doesn't mention it).  My suggestion is a new 'warning light;' when such a conversation turns away from 'this Incoherent game must be Drifted' to the usual reverse, people can flash the warning light and say that 'just forget Drift, because Drift-proofing is impossible - don't assume it will happen (outside of the Hobbyists, who we can't stop anyway).'

Heavens, I don't want to advocate Drift-proofing, just the opposite.  I want people to stop thinking that 'laser-focus' will prevent it.

[*]'Kay, if we're talking System as in 'the printed stuff and how it can be expected to be used' (in other words we don't account for Drift or Drift proofing), then I'd say that 'Taking Part' is partially embodied by the thrust of 'narrative control change' mechanics we've been seeing lately (Monologues of Victory, 'Facts,' and the like), but also the very fact that any skill a character has empowers its player to say (under the right circumstances), "My character does this!"  Which is the oldest form of narrative control, isn't it?  (Where does that get discussed?  Is it old, is it new; I don't know.)

I'd have thought 'Inspirational' was obvious.  Isn't that how a game supports its design scheme?  If you have rules for summoning demons, that supports the Explorative Agenda╣ of 'doing stuff with demons.'  That's the most recent incarnation of System inspiring play.  But another would be drawing cards to 'make your character's life more complicated' or something.  Like I said, I see this as fertile ground abandoned every time the Lumley Principle is cited.

[*]I don't think The Pool is a consumer-friendly product, but the Questing Beast is moreso, along the same lines as The Riddle of Steel affording Narrativism to the consumer-base.  Where is the discussion of turning 'hard core Narrativist designs' into broad-audience products without 'dumbing them down?'

Okay, so we know what Narrativism is, how do we write it 'for everyone' to give it a shot?  I think such a conversation could inspire a whole passel of awesome Narrativist games.  How do we get that started?  I dunno, but I'm dying to see it.

[*]I'd also like to see a 'sister theorem' to the GNS that was like a menu for designers.  The GNS is for diagnosing problems in real, actual gaming instances; doesn't it seem backward to design a game to prevent problems (GNS facilitating) rather than to exemplify some approach?  I think theory can 'go there,' I don't believe GNS is the best tool but its existence implies that such a 'sister theory' is possible.

(I know, you didn't have a number for this; so sue me.)[/list:o]Feel free to pop open a thread on any of these points here in the Scattershot Forum (pick the one your most interested in).  I don't have 'another shoe' for any of them, I am legitimately interested in 'going somewhere with these.'

Fang Langford

╣ Is it just me or is 'creative agenda' (as in 'what you do' and 'how you do it' in a game) getting way confused with 'creative agenda' (like in Lord of the Flies and The Jungle that were written to 'do something' beyond just entertain).

The confusing part is that, as I understand 'creative agenda' it is about where the Exploration goes and is done.  If that's the case, wouldn't 'Exploration Agenda' be a better term?

Of course, I have problems with the confusion engendered by 'Exploration,' so I might go farther to Imaginaction Agenda (yes, I just made up that word).
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Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
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