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Author Topic: Beeg Horseshoe Theory Revisited  (Read 64348 times)
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2003, 09:21:09 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
But in a moment, Ron would be along to tell you that this is, in fact Narrativism. That you're conflating the literature definition with something more flighty. Well, we don't have to debate this under my model.


Aye, ok...I'll let this drop off until Ron or someone can clarify for me.  Realistically, looking at the current definition of Nar and Gam doesn't hurt this approach much.  So, it may be irrelevant at the moment.  I just can't help but feel there is some sort of GNS defense mechanism in the definition of Nar.  

Exaggerated example:
Nar is about Story Now.
What's Story mean anyway?  You can't have Story in the other modes?
Err, nevermind it's about moral or ethical questions.
Ok, I get that, what if it isn't about Premise, but is still about Story Now.
It's Sim.  Go away.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #31 on: May 30, 2003, 09:22:35 AM »

It seems like the Big Question getting asked right now is whether a game can live on Fidelity alone. As often happens, I think design and play are getting confused a bit.

A game can be designed for Fidelity alone. We've seen it many times. GURPS, for example, is designed for Fidelity alone, as is BESM and Fudge, I'd purport. Notice all of these games consider themselves "generic" systems.

There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going. (I expect protest to this remark, but I stand by it. No game can stand play with only Fidelity.) This does not mean the above games are bad, or unplayable. It's always been acknowledged that Theme and Challenge can arise from the social structure of play, and in fact, the social structure is the primary provider of these two. Rules can focus this, and help mightily, but without the social structure of either Theme or Challenge, they won't happen. In this case, a group who has a clear social impetus, and enjoys play with high Fidelity, will add Challenge or Theme to a Fidelity-only game, moving it to fit their group.

I really like this new model that's emerging, by the way. It has the following advantages:

- Games that I couldn't really fit into GNS fit great here. I understand GURPS in a new way.
- This model would be incredibly hard to use to label people. Any -isms can turn into -ists real fast.

Also, I edited out a huge part of this post when I realized it was moving off topic. I'm quoting it here, because I think there were some good ideas in it.

Quote

First, let me talk about a new model for design and play. If we use an axis-type model, you end up with a two-dimensional surface, with one axis of Fidelity and another of Challenge/Theme. You have to wonder - if Fidelity crosses the Challenge/Theme axis at the midpoint, what does that midpoint represent? It makes sense to have it represent a null - a space in which Challenge and Theme are reduced to nothing. Moving left of that point, Challenge is continually raised, and moving right, Theme is raised. In this model, Challenge and Theme are mutually exclusive.

Can that happen, though? Are Challenge and Theme mutually exclusive? I'm not sure, but if I have to offer an opinion, I'd say no. I certainly feel Challenge when trying to determine what tactics to use in the Riddle of Steel, and I've gotten serious Theme pay-off when that Challenge was met and defeated.

Challenge and Theme, while not being mutually exclusive, are not necessarily conducive to each other, though. In my above TRoS example, the Challenge is not a huge part of my play: it exists as a small, discrete part that is enjoyable, but not the focus. If they are not necessarily conducive, you could construct a model with three axes, all moving out from a singular point. A coherent game would "hug" one of the axes, and a game which did not hug one of the axes, but struck out into the middle ground would be "out there," or hard to use in play.

(It stands to note that by saying that Challenge is only a very small part of my example, I reduce it to not really being an instance of play, as recently defined, and could eliminate it, meaning I've just talked in circles.)
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #32 on: May 30, 2003, 09:26:56 AM »

Quote from: Emily Care
So we are saying both that a game that only prioritizes exploration doesn't exist, and that all exploration is fidelity to some referent?
All play is exploration, so I don't quite ascribe to Jason's equivalences. The question of Fidelity has to do with some rather specific things. Like Realism for example. Not a neccessary part, but if one is prioritizing any sort of realism highly, it's High Fidelity.

Quote
(Thanks for introducing fidelity as a term, Chris. I championed it in this thread a while ago, and somehow verisimilitude came more into vogue. :)
Cool. I thought it sounded familiar.

Quote
If instead we go with saying that some sort of fidelity is included in all play, and there really are only two other goals (nar/gam) where does everything else fit in?
As with GNS, these priorities are all something that doesn't seem to cause friction in a game. GNS and this version only seek to find that friction. It's not a model of all priorities, just those that conflict notably.

Quote
I believe Mike placed Social at a step higher than gns, which is always true: any rpg occurs within the context of social interaction.  But what if the particular goals that may be social or psychological in nature take pre-eminence? Are gamism and narrativism avenues through which these goals may themselves be reached?
Social goals inform the decisions certainly, and can over-ride. But no matter what the decision, it still falls on the plane somewhere. And where it falls will determine it's compatibility to other players.

One could develop a theory of how using Player political values to make decisions would be annoying to some other players (Politically Correct play). But that's not a common enough source decision making to be endemic to all decisions. Which means that such decisions can be discussed in terms of being Narrativist, and how that will affect play typically. But it'll require it's own theory as to how often it's problematic to people who don't like politics or something.

Put it this way, all other priorities seem to come second to these two axes in terms of potency and fecundity to cause problems as far as I've seen. Hence the reason the theory was invented waaay back as GDS.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #33 on: May 30, 2003, 09:32:25 AM »

Two posts again.

Quote
I just can't help but feel there is some sort of GNS defense mechanism in the definition of Nar.  


There is, and it's precisely what this model ommits. In fact, with this model you could almost define the Narrativist end of the spectrum as anything "non-challenge" oriented. Almost. That's how wide Ron has been trying to intimate Narrativism is, but has to hedge on the power issue as it relates to creation of story.

Again, the definition isn't really changing, it's just hopefully becoming more easily accessible.

Mike
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Bankuei
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« Reply #34 on: May 30, 2003, 09:37:10 AM »

Hi Clinton,

Quote
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.


I can only agree with you there.  High Fidelity play alone, doesn't hold for me.  It's part of my personal love/hate with Sim designed games.  They have an excellent engine for drifting either way G/N, but usually fail to provide enough impetus to really to either well without some drift.

To give some concrete examples- this is how I feel about M&M.  An excellent game, but it definitely requires a solid push one way or the other in terms of bringing up a conflict, and pushing it in play(although it definitely has G leanings).  Likewise with Savage Worlds.  I was lamenting that High Fidelity "universal" systems simply lack the necessary mechanics to empower G/N play without some signficant Drift.  Again, this doesn't make them bad games, simply toolkits that need a little extra assembly to fly.

An important question to ask, is, is G/N going opposite directions on a single axis as some have suggested, or are they X/Y perpendicular to each other?  As I said, I enjoy G/N play, and can say over a session, I may have made several decisions along both lines, but I can't say to have made decisions that fulfilled both simulatneously.

Chris
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #35 on: May 30, 2003, 09:45:31 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R. Nixon
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.
From a purely theoretical standpoint I'd disagree. Some whacky player could do this. I just think that it's irrelevant to the theory. If they do then the decisions will fall on the Conflict plot somewhere, and that's where they'll count.  

Quote
In this case, a group who has a clear social impetus, and enjoys play with high Fidelity, will add Challenge or Theme to a Fidelity-only game, moving it to fit their group.
Right. They'll either play in some agreed upon Conflict axis territory, or they'll have dysfunction.

Quote
- This model would be incredibly hard to use to label people. Any -isms can turn into -ists real fast.
Hadn't thought of that. That said, I was just going to say to Jason that I too tend to make decisions in the Hi-Fi/Nar corner. Slipping to the non-nar when I need to rectify. But, hey, that's more of a behavioral dscription, so I think it does help.

Quote

Can that happen, though? Are Challenge and Theme mutually exclusive? I'm not sure, but if I have to offer an opinion, I'd say no.
This is actually quite important. These priorities are not mutually exclusive from a player perspective. But in the end, it's what the fighting's all about. That is, where the decisions are percieved to land is where the dissociation occurs. I'd go so far as to say that it doesn't actually matter why you made a decision and what your priorities are. It's what others percieve that's important.

Ever notice how incoherence is never an issue in solo play? ;-)

Quote
In my above TRoS example, the Challenge is not a huge part of my play: it exists as a small, discrete part that is enjoyable, but not the focus. If they are not necessarily conducive, you could construct a model with three axes, all moving out from a singular point. A coherent game would "hug" one of the axes, and a game which did not hug one of the axes, but struck out into the middle ground would be "out there," or hard to use in play.
I think I disagree with this, but agree that it's probably tangential. Another thread if this one works out.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #36 on: May 30, 2003, 09:51:14 AM »

Two posts in a row.

Quote from: Bankuei

Quote
There is no "generic" play, though. Fidelity cannot be the only thing that keeps play going.


I can only agree with you there.  High Fidelity play alone, doesn't hold for me.  It's part of my personal love/hate with Sim designed games.  They have an excellent engine for drifting either way G/N, but usually fail to provide enough impetus to really to either well without some drift.
Again, I'm going to call this a preference. One that I believe that almost all players share, but a preference nonetheless.

In fact, I'd simply say that, given power to go off on the Conflict axis, players will tend to do so. I mean, why not? These axes do not conflict. So it doesn't hurt my Fidelity to go off on the Conflict Axis. If a particular decision would, I can always retract to the center for that one decision if I have that as a strong priority.

Mike
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #37 on: May 30, 2003, 10:06:32 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes

In fact, I'd simply say that, given power to go off on the Conflict axis, players will tend to do so. I mean, why not? These axes do not conflict. So it doesn't hurt my Fidelity to go off on the Conflict Axis. If a particular decision would, I can always retract to the center for that one decision if I have that as a strong priority.


Mike,

I can't seem to find where you came up with the term "Conflict Axis," but it's solid. In any game, you can decide "What's my conflict about? Is it about the theme or about challenge?"

Damn, this is working out. New ideas are popping like fireworks in my head. One of them: in a game, a point is set on the Conflict Axis for how the game is played by the group. That doesn't mean in individual points they don't stray from that, though: just that the average of the points equals the group's decided way to play. So, if we're playing with some Theme, a little Challenge added in hurts no one, as long as it doesn't skew the numbers so much that we've moved our "center point."

And this explains why I love a game like the Riddle of Steel, where I get all sorts of Challenge that is averaged out by the high amounts of Theme.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #38 on: May 30, 2003, 11:16:19 AM »

Clinton, bingo. Note how some players are more uncomfortable with the SAs. This is because they don't see them in terms of the Conflict axis, they think that they have something to do with the Fidelity axis. And to an extent they do have some impact (for a player who prefers their Fidelity to be physics based, they might see SAs as dipping way low on that axis). If they were just to see them in the light of the element that makes the game's Theme decisions fun, then they'd probably not object. As Ron says, the only thing that prevents players from shifting back and forth on that axis is not knowing what the goal is. TROS shifts the goal back and forth so that you have fun with each end, IMO. SAs drive Thematic decisions (like who to fight), which then gives you power to make Challenge decisions (like how to fight).

Chris (Bankuei) suggested "Conflict Axis", and it works perfectly with what I'm describing.

Mike
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #39 on: May 30, 2003, 11:00:29 PM »

Called on the carpet; let me respond.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
Quote from: quoting what I
...war games...we're not asking either whether the opponent is going to have moral issues about a particular approach or which approach is strategically best for the opponent, but given what we know about the opponent, what strategy is he most likely to use?
But how are these not the same? I mean, a good simulation will make it difficult to use unrealistic solutions. So in the end, good Gamism is usually congruent with good Sim.

You can probably try to treat them as the same; you can in essence say that the personalities of the commanders are limits within which the player must operate. However, I maintain that there is a difference between play in which the players move the forces in that manner which is tactically best and that in which they account for the characters (=personalities) of the field commanders who have to make the moves.

One of the problems I had with the Lord of the Rings Bookcase Game, as I recall it distantly in my memory, is that the Sauron player had a "traitor" card. The point of the card was so that the Fellowship player couldn't know that Saruman was going to be the traitor--the Sauron player could have picked Gandalf, or even Frodo, as the person who would take the ring to him on his first opportunity to do so, so that if the Fellowship player entrusted the ring to that character the game was lost. My problem with that is the feeling that Gandalf wouldn't do that. You might think it's a narrativist problem, but it isn't--it's a question of the fidelity of the character to his personality and principles. It's ultimately a simulationist concern, and in this context, it's a conflict between gamism and simulationism. It's because I can't accept Gandalf as the traitor that the game doesn't work for me. It's not true to who Gandalf is.

We could debate for hours whether Gettysburg would have gone otherwise had commanders acted differently; but below that debate (which we could settle in quite gamist fashion by setting it up and playing it out) there's another issue: how much differently from the way they acted could they have acted, and still been true to who they were? We could play that wargame with all of us playing all sides, deciding together what each unit is most likely to do, given its nature, the character of its commander, the information they have available, and the changes we've made. We could really be playing it to find out how it would have come out with just this one change, with no gamist nor narrativist impulses involved. What would Pickett have done were it not for that order? What would Lee have done had he better intelligence on the Union artillery? We can play this just to see how it comes out, with no desires to influence that on the part of any player. You could play such a game all by yourself. Maybe I'm crazy; I sometimes play Bridge all by myself, because I'm curious about how the game works and don't have three other players. I'm playing to learn about the game. I could play to learn about Gettysburg or Normandy, with no desire to bring anything to this event other than what would actually have happened.

And, like WOPR, I could play Global Thermonuclear War a thousand times just to see if there's any winning strategy. That's not gamist play. That's pure discovery.
Quote from: Mike then
The real test would be if there were a game where players just played aliens on an alien planet, and no conflict occured. You were just presented with typical day to day stuff, and were told to "react" appropriately. I can see it thoeretically, but it would be totally original to RPG play.

I do this all the time. It doesn't even seem strange to me.

The example which leaps to mind is well known to all Multiverser referees; it's called The Zygote Experience, is referenced in the rules and found in The First Book of Worlds, and garnered from Justin Bacon the words, "This, undoubtedly in my mind, is something that no one else has ever had the guts to try before." The player character, having been gruesomely killed in one world, comes back as a zygote--an unborn child at the instant of conception--and then experiences growth possibly for several game sessions until suddenly he is born. No one ever tells him what is happening in an out-of-game sense; all he has is that information which amounts to this is what it would be like if you were conscious of your entire pre-birth experience. After that, you're a baby, and you grow up through being a child. Maybe after a dozen game sessions or fifty game sessions, depending on how it plays, you're all grown up. It can't be narrativist, really, and it can't be gamist. It is strictly about the experience itself, and you've got to go through a lot of that experience before you're even able to drift it to gamism or narrativism.

I've also seen play that was quite specifically simulationist in worlds that had strong gamist or narrativist potential. The first person who played in Orc Rising, a world which confronts players squarely with issues of slavery, colonialism, and racial terrorism, quite specifically ignored all of that and just wandered around discovering the world without confronting it on any level.

Multiverser player characters are said to develop a "theory of the verse", an explanation of why these places exist and why they're in them. That theory then in turn informs what they do in those places. A player character who believes it's all madness or hallucination will act one way, another who believes he's Odin's chosen warrior preparing for Ragnorak will act another, a third who believes God has chosen him to make a difference in these worlds will act yet a different way. Among the first test players, before I was involved, was a guy named Sean Daniels. Sean's "theory of the verse" was very interesting. He decided that somehow versers had been thrown out of reality into the realm of human fiction, a realm in which all the stories ever told were happening. As such, all he ever did was watch stories unfold around him. Sometimes those stories dragged him along. If he followed Jack up a beanstalk, he might find himself fighting to help Jack, or fleeing from the giant; but he wasn't looking to have his own adventures--he was an observer, and that's how he played, only becoming involved when the story closed in around him.

So I see this kind of play all the time; sometimes I even play this way.
Quote from: Mike also
Note how the central feature of most RPGs is some sort of conflict resolution system.

I think that's a mischaracterization. In Multiverser, we've got a task resolution system which also handles conflict. I think a lot of games are like this. Even with those which have a separate combat system, it's frequently not set up as a conflict resolution mechanic but a task resolution mechanic. Looking at OAD&D, when I roll the hit roll, I'm not really rolling to determine how the conflict is resolved; I'm rolling to see whether I hit him, that is, whether the task is successfully completed. OAD&D actually is very poor at conflict resolution. There is no mechanic for determining whether the opponent flees or surrenders, no way of knowing whether some of the enemy are going to push others forward to protect themselves, nothing to tell you how brave these adversaries are. It's tacitly assumed that all monsters attack when encountered and fight to the death. Conflicts are not resolved; tasks are.

Alyria has a genuine conflict resolution system; and it's probably the most narrativist game I've played (although I've not yet played Sorcerer). Whatever you actually do to win the conflict is really color in the narration; the outcome of the conflict is determined by the die rolls, and even then whether you were successful in what you were attempting is entirely left to the narration. A character could perhaps say that in the current conflict he was going to draw his sword and stab his adversary, and then win a close die roll, and narrate it that he didn't draw blood but merely swung the sword threateningly with the result that the other stepped away, backed down, or fled. Conflict resolution is very different from task resolution, and few games have it.
Quote from: He further
As soon as you have Conflict, you have players using their powers to go Gamist or Narrativist.

You might; you might also have players using their powers to assure that their personal preferences for success or story do not influence the outcome of the situation. What would this character actually do in this situation can be a fully simulationist position (although I'll admit it is not always so).

Jason challenged my statement that an attempt to emulate genre (such as action movies) was in fact simulationism, and that he gets pushed into the simulationist chategory solely because he's not interested in either gamism or narrativism. My challenge, really, is what is it that interests him? Certainly you can set up an action movie world in which players have gamist priorities; you could also set up such a world in which players have narrativist priorities. If all you want to do is experience what it would be like to be a character in such a world, you're doing simulationism. If you're using that background as the setting in which you're going to do incredible deeds and beat the villains and become the hero, you're probably doing gamism.

The verisimilitude in such worlds actually includes what would make the most interesting sequence of events. This is not a narrativist priority; it's an exploration of what can be done within these parameters.

You're not simulationist because you don't fit in either other category; you're simulationist because you want the game to produce an experience based on a definition of reality and without reference to any manipulation external to that reality. That reality may certainly include neat things.

An example of this could be a Bond-like simulationist experience. Because it's simulationist, we're not worried about giving the player too much power; thus during the course of play the player can invent Q-type gadgets which fit within the genre for Bond to use in the current fix. Sure, in the movies we see all these at the beginning of a Bond film; but we didn't always see them all at the beginning of Man from Uncle or Get Smart or even Inspector Gadget--they were sprung on us at the appropriate moment. So we give the player this power, to create devices and define what they do provided they're within the limits of the agreed reality. Bond is on the American sub and asks the commander whether it's equipped with such-and-such gadget which he's read about in a Soviet handbook (there's a real movie example--an on-the-spot gadget solution to a plot point). So at the critical moment the player can create something that enables his character to escape the danger. This isn't gamist; it's part of the agreed reality that the spies always escape the danger, and the interesting part is how they do it. It's not narrativist; we aren't creating a story that explores any moral or ethical principles. But it's not simulationist by default; it's aggressively simulationist. It uses positive principles to create the feeling of its reality, so that we can experience that reality. It has nothing to do with "not being one of the other two". It is what it is, quite proactively.

Does that make sense?

--M. J. Young
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Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2003, 07:52:52 AM »

This is long, an actual play example, and only mostly on topic.  I won't cry foul if the moderators think it would be appropriate to relocate it.

M.J.,

Well, if we're gonna get all examply, I'm gonna throw out an actual play example that I believe is Hi-Fi|Story Now, but is not quite Nar and not quite Sim.  You be the judge.

Let's think of a Genevieve example, 'cause the Vieve-ster always has something interesting for me to analyze.  For the moment naughty words are on (realism, genre, story, etc), 'cause it'll be what I'm thinking.  I'm also not going to bother to introduce any characters, because I suspect I'll be writing a bit of a book anyway.  Players are in {}:  Genevieve {Jason}.

This all happened during the post game wind-down period - the time after {Al} goes home and everybody else either chit-chats in character or analyses/bitches about the session (dependent upon how well the session went).  Nothing too important ever happens, but a lot of character relationships get fleshed out.  This particular time something happened.  I had fallen asleep on the floor in an awkward position when someone says, "Jason, Luccia {Eric} slept with Caspian {Tara}"..."Oh, shit".

The Vieve-inator and Caspian have had this growing romance.  It's been pretty slow, she's pretty closed off, and doesn't much care for being touched.  Luccia is the space slut.

Anyway, how we got to this point (As previously stated, my ass was passed out...but this is the tale I got):
Caspian and Luccia being the close buds they are were hanging out.  Luccia started to badmouth Gilgamesh {Paul}.  {Eric} thought it would be dandy if Luccia's com was bumped so Gil overheard.  Gil overhead that, and the beginnings of Luccia turning her closet crush into making incredibly aggressive sexual advances towards dear old Caspian (the jury is still out on whether it was force or not)...  Gil is a little shit, but a dear friend of Genevieve, so what does he do...  Well, {Paul} decides Gil has to tell someone, but not until later.  He'll be busy, everything will get nice and complicated by the time he gets around to spilling the beans...

Ok, now they wake me up.

Now I'm thinking, "Whoa this can go any number of terrible ways.  She had just taken what she considered very serious steps towards Caspian.  If this had only happened two sessions ago it wouldn't be an issue.  Oh well, we're screwed now.  It all depends on who tells her and how they do it.  All the characters are pretty fond of her, and not of Luccia - so setting her on fire or something would break that.  Hmmm...something weak and girly, make 'em feel real bad about it."

{Paul} thought it would be most amusing to tell Genevieve's visiting sister, Luir {Me Again}.   Well, shit.  Luir doesn't care too much for Luccia, competition for her sister's bright future and all.  Guess I'll have her go confront her...Ooooo, I've been waiting for an excuse to make Luir really detest Luccia.

Luir ejects Caspian from the room and the yelling begins.  {Eric} says Luccia pulls a weapon (rash and violent she is), so Luir conjures up a sword.  The scene degrades into violence as Yama {Eric}, Mercedes {Rene}, and Gil show up on the scene (because the players wanted them to, all specific different motivations I suspect).  It finally ends with Dusk {Me, Yet Again} - Luir's familiar, and eye of frost shaped like a girl - freezes most everybody (our little eye-girl has quite the high roll).  Now why did I try this, it'd gotten to be a bit of a cluster fuck and Luccia had sucked some life out of Luir.  Well, Luir and Dusk are linked - hurt one you hurt the other.  'K, perfectly good motivation to try to end this conflict now before a character actually gets nigh-killed and the focus of the story changes over to the conflict with Luir/Luccia.  Let's get back on track.  Genevieve has the problem here. This other thing is getting messy.

Heh.  There is a little OOC talk about what happened, {Eric} says something about how it was all Luir's fault...  Player conflict, hold on.

Eric:  "But, she had a sword.  Luccia was just defending herself."  
Me:  "Well, she wouldn't have had a sword if you hadn't brought out the cyber-weapons.  Besides, she only threatened you with it.  You sucked the life out of her.  Succubus."
Eric:  "But, I didn't draw a weapon."
Me "Yes, you did nancy-pants.  You said it very clearly without stuttering."
Paul:  "He's right you did say that."
Tara:  "Yeah, but he took it back."
Eric:  "Yeah, I took it back."
Me:  "You did what?"
Rene:  "You didn't take it back."
Me:  "Err...fine, what do you want to have happened?"
Eric: "She didn't draw the arm blades."
Me: "'K, no sword then."
Eric: "Then no life drain.  And Yama only attacked because Luir had a sword."
Me: "Then no fight; therefore no Yama, Mercedes, or Gil; therefore no being frozen."
Everyone Else:  "Then what happens?"
Me:  "Well, I guess she yells at her and leaves.  No one else is involved."
Everyone Else:  "That sucks."

I'm not certain exactly how many of these conversations I've had with {Eric}, but this certainly wasn't the first.  What the hell {Eric} was thinking. I have no idea.  I was thinking:  "Grr...smashy smash, damn you {Eric}, make up your frickin' mind.  It doesn't fit for Luir to be randomly violent and I don't want to screw up any of the character's relationships with her family.  I guess we'll have to change what happened."

Back to the story.  I think {Tara} had Caspian run off and hide...I can't quite recall.  Anyway, Luir talks to Gil and decides she's going to go tell Genevieve right now.  Tara was going to have Caspian tell her himself, but there was some reason why she didn't...Grr, damned memory.  Anyway, Luir breaks the news and Genevieve teleports home in the middle of the night.  Heh, bite me party format - I just went to a different planet.

This was the big important decision.  Why did I make it?  First off it would make for some damned interesting reactions in the morning.  Second, it was one of the options of things she would do.  The only other option that seems to fit at this point in her life was going into a blind rage and stabbing Luccia with a broken mirror.  I decided Luir broke the news in a fashion that led her to flight instead of fight...  It kept Luccia the bad guy, and seemed like the most interesting.

The next morning, through a series of conversations some of the crew finds out what happened and that Genevieve is missing.  Jeremiah {Tara} (the starship's pilot) promptly blinks to Mooravia (not the one on Earth, Genevieve's home world) - no discussion, no warning, just "We're leaving, you're in deep shit Luccia".

They found Genevieve in the consoling company of her family.  Jeremiah and Jet {Rene} go to see how she is doing - Jeremiah and Jet both get along really well with the royal family.  Some time passes, the character's talk amongst themselves - deciding what to do; wondering what's going on; trying to figure out how to keep the whole thing a secret from Genevieve's crazy, man-hating, arch-mage, grandmother lest she kill Caspian; etc.

At some point Luccia realizes she fucked everything up righteously.  How do we fix it?  Why, we try to enlist Gil's aid and conjure up a favor from the god of thought, so they all like me again.  Heh, there is very little Genevieve hates more than having her mind toyed with.  She figures out that she's been charmed, has it fixed, but doesn't find out who did it. These decisions were based on pissing her off even more, but not to the set Luccia on fire point.  I didn't want her to find out because that would completely trash her relationship with Gil.  Jet catches her during the midst of this and decides to give her a note from Luccia and some snotty comments.  They don't get along so well after that.

'K, so I could type out all the little details, but they aren't decision points and I've babbled enough already.

The next important point is when Genevieve decides she's going to stay behind.  This decision causes a bit of a chain reaction in later sessions.  Evil plans already brewing in my head.  I made it because Genevieve didn't really provide me with any other options, besides it was incredibly dramatic.  If she just got back on the ship the punch of the whole sequence would have been lost.  It would also have felt terribly contrived.  Everyone gets on the ship and leaves.  Everyone except Genevieve, Luir, and Zel {Yes, Me Again} (Genevieve's brother).  Luir stayed because she had to tend to her sister's first love-affair disaster.  Zel stayed for two reasons, he worships his sister and discord was growing between him and Jeremiah over Jet.  I decided to make Luir stay because I didn't have another option that fit the character.  I decided to make Zel stay because I was preparing for the next phase in his personal story.  I was also going to trade him out later for one of Genevieve's other brothers.

I could keep going on this particular chain of events, but that's the end of the session.

******

Well,  Sim?  Nar? or Neither?  I'm voting for Hi-Fi|Story Now, but you already knew that.

My stance is:  This isn't Nar because at no point do I give a crap about the moral or ethical implications.  This isn't Sim because I have an overt metagame agenda in many of my decisions that isn't verisimilitude, but is instead 'most interesting story.'

From my point of view, it seems to be all in the Author stance - it allows you syncronize Nar/Sim: Explore Sit|Char so they all feed off each other to create a consistent whole.  I believe that whole is a single priority - Hi-Fi|Story Now.  Honestly, I'm not convinced Author stance can be motivated by anything but a non-Sim metagame agenda.
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- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2003, 10:43:46 AM »

Doh! I think I forgot the most important part.

M.J.,

Yeah, you're making sense, but I don't precisely see it that way.  In my play experiences I see defining the consistent reality being motivated by story.  Maybe that's not quite right.  I see the story and consistent reality as homogeneous.  As an analogy, take the author who has a character that won't allow him to make certain decisions.  The character has a certain amount of aliveness that the author simply cannot fight without him becoming a different character.  The author still has roads he takes to develop the best story in the form of creating the situations surrounding the character.  The character may be an immutable Sim sorta thing, but everything around him is mutable - which makes the story mutable and prioritizable.  You could think of the character a constant, or a restriction placed on the bounds of the story.

Mike keeps saying this isn't anything new, just a different way of looking at what we have.  I agree with him (excluding my Nar contention/confusing/whatever it is).  This approach seems more concise and accessible for defining the way I play than the current divisions/hybrids.

EDIT:
Your examples (correct me if I'm wrong) seem like solid Actor stance examples.  In connection with my idea that Author stance must have a metagame priority other than verisimilitude, I would say that true Actor stance cannot have a priority other than verisimilitude.  What I think you have with Actor stance is then the center point (or Don't Care point) on the Conflict axis with High Fidelity.  At least, that's where I see what you're describing using this approach.  In contrast then, I suppose what you'd have at the center with Low Fidelity would be 'not playing'...I think.  (I'm having some deja vu here, didn't Walt and/or Chris already say something like this...oh well.)
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- Cruciel
jdagna
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Posts: 563


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« Reply #42 on: May 31, 2003, 12:47:20 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
From my point of view, it seems to be all in the Author stance - it allows you syncronize Nar/Sim: Explore Sit|Char so they all feed off each other to create a consistent whole.  I believe that whole is a single priority - Hi-Fi|Story Now.  Honestly, I'm not convinced Author stance can be motivated by anything but a non-Sim metagame agenda.


I think I'm mostly in agreement with you, except I do think it's Sim.  In fact, about halfway through the story, I was thinking "Wait, this is just Author-stance Sim."

And I don't think Author stance is necessarily in conflict with Sim play.  Here's why: almost every single D&D character reaches a point where he's so rich, he could buy a kingdom and retire.  But instead he seeks out the tomb of so-and-so for another boatload of treasure and weapons, despite the obvious risk.

Now, Gam and Nar players don't have a problem with this.  Certain characters would make this choice even in Actor-stance Sim.  But a significant number of players choose to take the adventure, even though it doesn't entirely fit with their the only time I've ever seen a player retire such a character was when he wanted someting new to play with.

In other words, most Sim players are using Author stance to motivate their characters to continue adventuring.  Why? Because it's more fun than role-playing tax collection from the serfs and players want to have fun.  And the choice to retire the character is often an Author-stance Sim decision.  It can make sense for the character, but needs the player's impetus.

In your case, your desire for fun and drama was shaping the character's actions.  There was still a clear commitment to the character, and some reliance on Actor stance, but you knew that by encouraging certain reactions you could get the most drama rom the situation.  Of course, in this case, you were controlling multiple characters and it's almost impossible to operate strictly in Author stance with multiple characters (in my experience).
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Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #43 on: May 31, 2003, 02:09:24 PM »

MJ, It seems to me that you're not reading the other posts. I've acceeded that one can make decisions that are neutral to the question of Gamism or Narrativism (challenge/theme, the Conflict axis). It's not that a player can't prioritze "sim". Quite the opposite. What I'm saying is that incoherence only occurs along one or the other axis. Simulationism does exist, and in this model is high fidelity, with neutral Conflict axis positioning.

Will this annoy the player who wants challenge to be the primary motivation of play? Sure. But not because the decisions are High Fidelity. That's the point. The decision is annoying because the player B percieves player A with his given power to win, not using that power to do so.

Basically, nobody ever said, "Man, you suck, that was way to realistic!"

What they object to (assuming a different preference), in the case of the example, is that either the player isn't responding well to a challenge, or he's not creating story. That is, that the player isn't with them on the Conflict axis.

Now, as I've said, I'll also admit that certain decisions only have mutually exclusive decisions in terms of which axis can be prioritized. But this is key. It's only certain decisions that have this quality. This is why Ron requires the "Instance of play" to note direction. What I observe, however in the Instance, is players going back and forth on both axes. But they do tend to be going for some position typically (including neutral).

OK, I'm just extending my point. I'd also like to point out that your example is unusual. I mean, you might think that it's "normal" play, MJ, but obviously the reviewer didn't. And most people would not. I've admitted that this sort of play can exist in other posts (even fought those who've said otherwise, like Clinton). The point is that this is simply a perfect example of the principle at work. That is, one can see that for Clinton, it's a requirement of play that one go off the neutral stance on the Conflict axis. For you it's not. Hence we see why we need this theory or GNS.

BTW, when I said Conflict resolution system, I just meant resolution system. If there is no conflict (and I mean this in a traditional sense as any two things that compete to produce an outcome incliuding any task), what do you roll for? A "true" non-conflict sim would never have a need to roll to see what comes out on top. It might have random rolls or systemic rolls for what's likely to happen, but you'd never have to consider a resolution system roll. The point is that, again, what constitutes conflict is in the eye of the "annoyed" party. So even your "perfectly sim" game must be on the chart somewhere.


The advantage of this theory is that it says that it's not that you're prioritizing Sim that's the problem that Clinton has with your example of play. It's that you're not getting off neutral on the other axis. At first glance this seems to be simply saying that GNS lies along one axis. But there's another important thing going on. And that's that it's now OK for the player to prioritize BOTH. That is, Clinton will have absolutely no problem with you  making HiFidelity/Challenge, or HiFidelity/Thematic decisions. He only has a problem with the narrow HiFidelity/Neutral category.

Further that there's a whole 'nother brand of incoherency that lies on the other axis.

In Ron's model, you have to be one of three things in effect, or hop between them resulting in play that was, in total, measurable as one of the three things. What I'm saying is that there are four things to be, and you can be any two of them consistently. HiFi/Nar play for eample, is not schitzoprenic, it's quite consistent. Ron's model didn't really deny that, but made it hard to imagine, IMO.

The other advantage of this model is that it is atomic. That is, it does deal with each individual decision, and the overall play can be detailed if one wishes as a an average of all the decisions made. I think that's a valid way to look at it. Because we all know and agree that only ocassionally is it a single decision that causes players to be annoyed with other players' play.

And most importantly is the implication for design. It means that instead of thinking in terms of whether the game is purely one of three modes, you look at where you stand on each spectrum.

Suddenly we can all agree that TROS is HiFi/Theme with moments of big HiFi/Challenge. That it's simply not Neutral ever on the conflict axis. No longer are there any questions about whether or not the Sim overpowers the Nar or vice versa. I think that given the game's design that it's not an issue.

When designing, you then ask what I think are the pertinent questions. How does the game support Challenge or Theme. And to what extent, and how do I want to support Fidelity. The first question is pretty standard, but the second one is not as often considered. That is, it's assumed that you have to give up some Fidelity to get theme or challenge. But then we're told that hybrids are possible. Well, how do you get a hybrid? This model has the answer. All games are hybrid in a manner of speaking, and this model requires you to answer the question "to what extent"? But in a way that has, I think, a more clear impact on play results.

I'm tentatively thinking of calling this the Conflict/Fidelity model (alphabetic listing of terms so that I can't be called biased). C/M for short. Does that make sense?

Are my clarifications logical? Any more problems?

Mike
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #44 on: May 31, 2003, 02:19:04 PM »

This post follows a more important one above.

Jason, Justin, I've always been of the opinion that the stances don't have a one to one relationship with anything. I think this model makes that more clear. That is, formerly it was hard to consider a thematic decision in terms of being made in Actor stance because the definition of that stance seemed almost identical with that of the presumed motives of the Sim mode. Same with Nar and non-actor stances.

In this model we see that Actor stance is one potential way to achieve HighFidelity, but that doesn't mean that it can't also be Theme. Which is what Ron's been saying for a long time to deaf ears. Similarly I've been saying that people don't recognize the extent of use of Author and Director in creating Hi Fidelity play. But the assumption seemed to be that these things supported Gam or Nar so powerfully that they weren't capable of supporting HiFi. But we see with this model that this assumption can't be true.

There will always be localized cases where these assumptions are true. But over time, they're demonstrably false. Which has it's most important repercussion in design where most decisions are made to promote an overall style as opposed to control of atomic decision making.

Mike
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