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Author Topic: Vive La Resistance or System Doesn't Matter  (Read 11699 times)
Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2003, 04:14:59 PM »

hmm . . . looks like two of my recent posts could easily have been here instead of where I put 'em.   This one adresses the "creative agenda" bit, and this one is about why people like incoherence.  I think GMs like Incoherence, and players with a good GM rarely experience it (because that GM gets rid of it before players even see it).

I may post another response here, the gist of which will be that System (that which appears in the game text) always influences System (what the group actually does during play), and can (as Vincent almost says) never dictate System (what the group actually does during play).  That is what "System Matters" really means, and both are corallaries to the Lumpley Principle that people often miss.  Game text will always influence what a group actualy does (System Matters), and can never force them to do anything in particular (System Doesn't Matter - or, more correctly, System Doesn't Determine).

In short - I'm getting a tempest in a teapot feeling.  Don't we all actually agree on all this?  It needs to be more clearly expressed sometimes, I can agree with that - but fundamentally, there's nothin' to argue over here - in the System Matters bit, anyway.

At least, I hope that's true . . .

Gordon
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2003, 05:31:06 PM »

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
That is what "System Matters" really means, and both are corallaries to the Lumpley Principle that people often miss.

In short - I'm getting a tempest in a teapot feeling.  Don't we all actually agree on all this?  It needs to be more clearly expressed sometimes, I can agree with that - but fundamentally, there's nothin' to argue over here - in the System Matters bit, anyway.

[Emphasis mine.]

Like I said, I've been a little naughty brewing this tea, but as you point out, sometimes expression counts; I've been getting a little tired of dogmatic retorts absent thinking.  If you look a bit farther down the Scattershot Forum, you'll see that Vincent has set the record straight as far as his Lumpley Principle is concerned; another thing which needed saying.

The (not really) new point I'm trying to raise about system mattering is a potential difference between past and future audiences.  In the past, many times game play (system) was hardly influenced by game text (system).  I think in the future, this trend will be reversed as people who are less willing/able/interested in establishing game play (system) other than the game text (system) outlines.  Ergo, two audiences (not separate and distinct); writing in the 'old fashioned way' won't work for both.  I think.

What do you think?

Fang Langford
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2003, 10:56:04 PM »

I think finding a way to make it easy for people to establish game play (system) would be a very worthy goal for a game text - so that the text is really about helping you establish an actual in-play system.  My take is that Scattershot leans in this direction very strongly.

A text that requires very little "establishing" is also a fine goal, though by its nature it's also more limiting.  But then, limits can be good things.  

As far as "writing in the 'old fashioned way'", well, what do we mean by "work" for both?  I mean, some new ways may be BETTER, but that doesn't mean old ones won't work at all.

In other words - sure, improve expression.  Always a valuable endeavor.  But when folks use an old label in a discussion ("Lumpley Principle", "System Matters"), that's not ALWAYS a sign of lack of thought.  Sometimes it's a sign of a LOT of thought, that they don't want to do again.

There is a danger of losing the legitimately new in those situations, but the legitimately new seems to EVENTUALLY manage to get distinguished.  Damn annoying when it takes longer than you wanted it to, though.

Gordon
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2003, 05:34:35 AM »

I'm still getting this weird sensation; it seems like writers who make excellent use of long-standing methods of game design feel embattled somehow.  I'm not sure how to pose this; don't you think there is room for both?  That's what I don't get here; I talk about additional ways of design and there seems to be this backlash about some kind of implied replacement of 'old ways.'  Whoever said the old ways needed to be replaced?

I understand how people can view something that is new as a threat to their perceptions, but past a certain point the 'what is wrong with the old ways?' argument is empty.  I have never said there was anything wrong with any way of designing; I don't see why adding a new way in any way invalidates any 'old way.'

In one of the older versions of Gamma World, it pretty much explicitly stated that the game had to be finished by the gamemaster before play could begin.  I think that was one of the most cogent designs of its time.  I think a lot of the eldest designs were like that except not nearly as self-evident.

The absence of such an honest appraisal in other games prior to it left the audience to its own devices to do much the same thing.  While not a quality of all the writing at that time, I think the audience had to have a certain receptivity to that.  My bald speculation is that a 'future,' or 'new mainstream' audience, won't be as willing to 'go that extra mile.'  Note: this does not mean I think the 'old audience' will be going away or lessening to any extent (I see their numbers growing as well), but that doesn't absent the differences.

I'm pretty sure that a product requiring such work (as it won't appeal to this 'new audience') is something that will be around for a very long time.  As I've said, I'm not sure that it needs to be 'fixed' in any way.  Product that doesn't require as much work (needs little "establishing") will probably appeal to both audiences.  Now, granted that the 'new audience' will happen, only one of these two design schemes will appeal to it.  Does this mean the 'old audience' will disappear?  No.  Does this mean that the 'old audience' won't want 'old style product' (the kind which needs "establishing")?  Not at all.  Does the fact that 'new style product' (needs little "establishing") will suit them better (even though they effectively use both)?  I doubt it.  Granted that at some point both audiences will exist, then both style of products will need to.

I cannot forecast, in any way, how or what this 'new audience' will be like; all I can say is that 'old style product' will never find them, if they exist.  What I don't understand is the reactionary statements of some, not vitriolic, but carrying the air of embattlement.  It's so odd to me because no one is attacking them or their methods.  I go so far as saying these (people and methods) are vital to the continuation of the hobby for as long as I imagine it continuing.  So why do I get the sense of embattlement?

Can't we talk about something new?


Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Damn annoying when it takes longer than you wanted it to, though.

Here, here!  Now that's what I'm talking about.

Fang Langford
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2003, 09:24:39 AM »

Hey Fang,

As far as *I'm* concerned - no, no "embattled" feeling intended.  IMO - you (intentionally) were a bit agressive in your wording, so people are/were a bit aggresive in their explanations - and the root of those explanations was "no, we don't disagree with your point, just what some people might think your point means."  In other words - your arguments have been used by others to cause great mischief, so even though (I'll assume) most people here don't think YOU mean to use it that way, they in some way feel the need to  . . .  clarify the implications.  Certainly that's the only source of "defensiveness" I intended in my posts.

Now that that's out of the way - you saw my post about Gamma World, right?  That's why you mentioned it here?  Otherwise, the Forge synchronicity effect is just working WAY too much overtime . . .

But on the issue of "establishing" and new modes: I don't want to give up on the idea that doing a BETTER job of providing tools for establishing could make a huge difference.  But I do agree that "pre-established" is also an interesting avenue to explore.  Ron's Sorcerer can be a bit of a model here - there are implicit tools that allow (or in some cases require) customization by each play group.  The designer-minded can use those tools to pre-establish a variant play format, which we see in the mini-supplements.

But you could just see those as baby steps towards an entirely new way to "do" RPGs.  I mean, the actual scenes for a play session could be pre-built into a card deck, each scene has entry and exit conditions, the GM manages the scene cards, the players use their abilities by playing action cards and narrating the effect, progress through the scenes is tracked on a board . . .

Maybe what I'm seeing is a continuum between "build it yourself" and "prefab," with individual tastes dictating excatly where on the spectrum you like your games.  Historically, RPGs lean towards the build it yourself end, whether they realize it or not.

Gordon
(hoping he managed to transition a *bit* into talking about something else . . .)
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Le Joueur
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« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2003, 10:17:12 AM »

Excellent Gordon!

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Maybe what I'm seeing is a continuum between "build it yourself" and "prefab," with individual tastes dictating excatly where on the spectrum you like your games.  Historically, RPGs lean towards the build it yourself end, whether they realize it or not.

(hoping he managed to transition a *bit* into talking about something else . . .)

We're in complete agreement then.

That gets us back to the nebulousness of creating something that's 'stealth' "build it yourself" while looking comfortably "prefabricated" for role-playing games that aren't in the 'historical tradition.'

What I've been toying with, depending on the groups prefered approach, is fragments of familiar sequences given in archetypical fashion (to be fleshed out by their game's particulars).  The problems I've faced are communicating approach differences without getting didactic, dictating sequences that feed interest in play rather than predefine it, sussing out the archetypical sequences for each Genre Expectation, how to approachably 'jargonize' how they refer to their game's particulars (to make it more modular when employing them in the archetyped sequences), and how to do this both in a fashion which is approachably simple and yet 'open' enough for near infinite variation (id est, once comfortable with the 'prefab parts,' they turn out to be guidelines rather than building blocks).  And that's just for 'where does the game go' as an example, other parts go have different problems.

I've been contemplating lately how The Riddle of Steel's Spiritual Attributes are excellent bait to get the players to inform the game (and gamemaster) what they would like to see in the game, both from a sequences point of view and an approaches perspective.

Do you have any alternative ideas or advice?

Fang Langford
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Gordon C. Landis
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Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


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« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2003, 11:00:33 AM »

Quote from: Le Joueur

Do you have any alternative ideas or advice?


Eh, I've got a bloody game design that's supposed do some of these things, but its' term of pregnancy is reaching (pardon the reference) Scattershot-like proportions.  But -

Yup, the RoS SA's are neat not only because they cause play to be about what the player wants it to be about, but also beacuse they communicate that fact to everyone else (especially, but not exclusively, the GM).  Rather than a list of attiributes about what the charcter can do, they say what the player wants the character to be about.

That's a division I've found valuable - well, two divisions, but player vs. character is pretty well discussed already.  What a character *is* (what they're about, what "weight" they carry for the player) vs. simply what they *do*.  There's a relationship between the two, of course, and it's not that the "what they do" is UNimportant, but the very fact that someone chooses (e.g.) to say their character *is* a swordsman, instead of just saying that what that chracter does in a combat scene is use a sword . . . that communicates something.  At least, I hope it does.

Gordon
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damion
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« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2003, 07:28:09 AM »

The 'traditional' way of prefabing was to have adventure modules. In some cases these were pretty detailed, in some cases they were 'adventure frameworks', i.e. a more like a kit.

Then there is various forms of player input, you mentioned Riddle of Steel's spirtual Attribs and there are various directorial power mechanics, like in Donjon.

An approach I've heard of for fantasy games is to have each player create a bunch of prophesies that the GM then uses. One could provide a framework for these to enforce genera conventions and some common structure.

You could also have each player create some generic frameworks for adventures their characther would be involved in, or maybe just common elements, most(but not all) of which would appear in every adventure for that characther. (For example the Kirk framework might include FistFight and attractive Female Humanoid)

You could also have players get together and create a generic framework for an adventure utilizing their common elements, possibly useing Solomon's Auction(if it's still there) to resolve conflicts.  You might also need some method for 'restructuring' in the event that the previous structure become untendable for some reason or people just don't like it.
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James
Mulciber
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« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2003, 09:54:39 AM »

Fang, can you provide a couple of examples of recent games that have included Drift-proofing rules (and perhaps even cite where they occur in text)?  I am far from knowledgeable vis a vis rpgames.  

Also, would I pronounce your name  to rhyme with rang and strangler, or gong and strong?
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