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Exploration of System (split)

Started by Walt Freitag, June 03, 2003, 09:43:07 PM

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Right here: Pervy Sim, Points of Contact, Accessibility: an example game.

I was suffering the same System confusion as everybody is now, and Ron you said to me: Vincent, System is just what you were ranting about.  And I said, oh!

What you said precisely is: System is the Lumpley Principle in action.  By "the Lumpley Principle" here you meant the principle that nothing happens in the game until everybody agrees that it does, my rant.

So "the Lumpley Principle" became shorthand for "System is the process ('in action') by which the players come to agreement about what happens in play."


Edited for clarity.

Mike Holmes

So where the hell does that leave us now. I'm more confused than when we started.

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Ron Edwards

Hi there,

I was sort of hoping that my post at the bottom of p. 2 would do the job. Vincent, it's your call.



My call?

I'm fine.  I was just pointing to the thread.

I think we should press on, boldly.  System means the actual process in actual play, the Lumpley Principle remains the Lumpley Principle we know and love, not whatever its roots once were.  I surely didn't mean to be confusing.


Jason Lee

Quote from: lumpleySo "the Lumpley Principle" became shorthand for "System is the process ('in action') by which the players come to agreement about what happens in play."

So then, is this the answer to what "System" means in the Exploration context?

If so, I'm missing how you can prioritize the process by which players come to agreement about what happens in play.  If System is a lower priority then, you're what, disagreeing more?
- Cruciel

Ron Edwards

Hi Jason,

No, it's what I described to Mike on the previous page: more attention and effort. It takes work to apply System when you play GURPS, in order to find and apply various modifiers. It also takes work to do it in most so-called System-less (i.e. Drama-mechanics) games, in order to negotiate where the buck stops this time.

As a related point, none of this has anything to do with what people call "System-heavy" or "System-light." It has a lot to do with what I used to call Vanilla vs. Pervy, but now gets discussed as "Points of Contact." The whole issue is whether the System itself becomes a subject of attention. Think in real-people terms of attention, discussion, usage, and stuff like Search and Handling Times.

I suggest that yes/no on this issue is not a matter of good or bad, but rather is very significant for any mode of play. Thus, one may see Vanilla Gamist play or a wide variety of Pervy Gamist play; Vanilla Sim play or a wide variety of Pervy Sim play; Vanilla Narrativist play or a wide variety of Pervy Narrativist play.

To repeat some of my earlier points about that, "Vanilla" of one mode does not resemble and represents no sort of combination with any other mode. Some people in the past thought I meant Sim/Narr hybrid by Vanilla, but they were very mistaken.



One player says "[let's imagine that] an orc jumps out of the underbrush!"

What has to happen before the players as a group agree that, indeed, an orc jumps out of the underbrush?

Sometimes, nothing.  The right player said it, everybody goes along with it, no discussion, no negotiation, no process needed.  "Dude!  An orc!  Battlestations!"  Low Exploration of System.

Sometimes, just a little.  "Really?  An orc?"  "Yep."  "Huh.  Well, okay."  Slightly more Exploration of System.

Sometimes, mechanics.  "...Okay, if you make your having-an-orc-show-up roll.  Throw down!"  "Ha!  57!"  "Orc it is."  Exploration of System, with mechanics.

Sometimes, a whole heck of a lot.  Debate the likelihood of a lone orc in the underbrush way out here, make a having-an-orc-show-up roll, a having-an-orc-hide-in-the-underbrush roll, a having-the-orc-jump-out roll, argue about the modifiers for each of the rolls, get into a philosophical thing about the rules' modeling of orc-jump-out likelihood...  That's a whole boatload of Exploration of System.

That's my take.


Jason Lee


Ok, the Vanilla/Pervy thing flipped a switch.  I read your post about eight times, then I went and re-read the first post in thread #4.

Either one of two things has happened:  either I get it or I have confused myself beyond the ability to express my confusion.  Either way...time will tell.
- Cruciel

Walt Freitag

In all of Vincent's examples, though, the change in the world state (the addition or repositioning of the orc) is the same.

So "system as the causation of change in the imagined space" is equally manifest in all those cases.

While "system having attention paid to it and being explored" varies depending on points of contact.

So we're still dealing with different shades of meaning of "system," (we can also throw in system-as-abstract-set-of-rules), which has been the problem all along, but we can work around it. This all makes sense if exploration of system is "attention and effort applied to points of contact." Time and motion in the examined space is driven by system, but that process does not necessarily have exploration of system in the forefront because the system may or may not have high density of points of contact.

Silly but actually apt physics analogy: the difference between heat and temperature can be confusing. The key is understanding heat capacity, which is the ratio between the two. Heat capacity varies between different materials. "Heat" is system-in-action, "temperature" is exploration of system in play, "Heat capacity" is (density of) points of contact, a characteristic of the play heavily influenced by the system-as-abstract-set-of-rules.

Points of contact is the key. That works for me.

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere