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Author Topic: Simulationism Revisited  (Read 15649 times)
Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #15 on: December 30, 2003, 03:43:35 PM »

John,

Yes, I think you're right - saying "prioritize" about rgfa-Sim *is* a mistake on my part, as "prioritize" is all about GNS.  Perhaps because rgfa-Simfolk want so strongly to reject the metagame (which you're proposing to call "Immersionist", right?), they are very likely to display a GNS-Sim priority, as G and N so openly invite metagame involvement.  But if there's flexibility in there for a small dose of Fabulism (perhaps covert, or unrecognized, or simply [and this might be controversial] unexpressed-but-really-you-know-it's-there-if-you-look -- so don't look -- Fabulism) . . . then there can be Immersionist N- or G-prioritizing play.

After all, there's actually a HUGE amount of ground between no-metagame and any-metagame-you-want.  Where and how you draw the line between what counts as "too much" will vary.  The Immersion-Fabulist axis, as I see it, is more of a spectrum than a binary test - except to those at either extreme.

Gordon
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lumpley
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« Reply #16 on: December 30, 2003, 05:17:50 PM »

Down in Actual Play I agree with Gordon: Adventures in RGFA Simulationism.  It's kind of a long example plus some rhetoric.  The short form:
Quote from: I
But it seems to me that the Threefold's Simulationism and Dramatism comment on the Exploration level, not the CA level.  They aren't creative agendas nor do they point to them.  They're ways to Explore.  Different tastes, different takes on in-game causality, character and setting integrity, participant authorship (when and about what), the role of mechanics, whether roleplaying is "fundamentally" internal to each participant or shared between them, dogmas about what "breaks immersion" and what "snaps suspenders."

Thus any CA can be served by any given Threefold approach to play.

Stripped of ideals and dogmas, do the Threefold's approaches each contain a core of complementary techniques?

-Vincent
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2003, 05:57:53 PM »

Hey Vincent,

Stripped of ideals and dogmas, do the Threefold's approaches each contain a core of complementary techniques?

Interesting. I submit instead that they are uppity techniques (and ephemera), that think they can determine Creative Agenda. Remember the diagram:

[Social Contract [Exploration [Creative Agenda --> [Techniques [Ephemera]]]]]

Paul
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John Kim
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« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2003, 06:57:53 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
Thus any CA can be served by any given Threefold approach to play.

Stripped of ideals and dogmas, do the Threefold's approaches each contain a core of complementary techniques?

Quote from: Paul Czege
Interesting. I submit instead that they are uppity techniques (and ephemera), that think they can determine Creative Agenda.

OK, so just to check, both of these to confirm what I said in the beginning.  Just to remind you -- I suggested that Immersionist/Fabulist is a division of technique which is not the same as GNS Creative Agenda.  So you could have Explorationist/Immersionist and Explorationist/Fabulist.  Now, Vincent and Paul have just extended that to suggest that there is also Narrativist/Immersionist and Narrativist/Fabulist.  (I was waiting for the Nar essay to comment on Narrativist.)  Certainly rgfa Simulationism is nothing but technique.  It is a recommended practice of decision-making.  It is not described as an end goal but as a way of directing effort.

As for the Threefold "thinking" that they are Creative Agendas, I think that's reversed.  Simulationism as a concept predates the Threefold Model, and the Threefold Model predates Creative Agenda.  It's unreasonable to expect an earlier model to fit into later-developed categories.  In other words, GNS mistook Threefold Simulationism for a Creative Agenda when in fact it was a category of techniques.
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2003, 07:30:17 PM »

Hey John,

As for the Threefold "thinking" that they are Creative Agendas, I think that's reversed. Simulationism as a concept predates the Threefold Model, and the Threefold Model predates Creative Agenda. It's unreasonable to expect an earlier model to fit into later-developed categories. In other words, GNS mistook Threefold Simulationism for a Creative Agenda when in fact it was a category of techniques.

The chronology is irrelevant. As depicted in the diagram, Exploration is built on a foundation of Social Contract. And Creative Agenda is built atop that foundation of Exploration. Techniques are wielded properly by those with their feet planted upon such a Creative Agenda. RGFA Simulationism purports that techniques are sufficient for producing coherent play (e.g. Creative Agenda).

Paul
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lumpley
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« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2003, 08:12:37 PM »

Paul: Ha!  "Uppity" because of ideals and dogmas, which I specifically stripped!

Anyhow treating the CA arrow as though it separates Exploration from Technique seems super-odd to me.  I'd say it this way: Techniques in application drive Exploration, which taken together over time fulfill or fail to fulfill Creative Agenda.  "On a high roll, you narrate" contributes directly to Exploration, and we have to watch for a while to see how it serves your CA.

John: You're the expert: if the Threesome was never about what-we'd-now-call-Creative-Agenda you'd know better than me.  Certainly Ron's identified CA in a way that lets us approach it more clearly and directly than the RGFAers ever had.  But I personally suspect - again, not having read any of it recently - that there's a lot of CA-level nonsense mixed in with the techniques.

Okay, now do I really suck so bad that I can't go read some old usenet?  Guess not.  Here's a quote, from you coincidentally:
Quote from: Long ago, relatively, John Kim
This is an ideal which I strike for in some of my games: a game where the players never ask or question what the "genre" is. Instead, they would tend to talk about the characters, the world, and how it works.  If asked what "genre" it is in, they would be hard-pressed to say.

Which is exactly what I mean: it looks like CA talk but actually isn't.  Your non-genre ideal serves a Creative Agenda, but which?  Impossible to say.  I don't intend to hold you to something you wrote in the past, naturally, it's just to show that there was attention paid to "what we get out of roleplaying" on RGFA.  Just a misidentification of techniques as such with "what we get out of."  As Paul says.

(In fact I remember that conversation from first time around!  "Cough, cough!  'Genre-convention apologists'?  That's a rather cold dismissal of a valid approach to gaming."  I had to look "apologist" up in the dictionary!)

-Vincent
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John Kim
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« Reply #21 on: December 31, 2003, 12:10:47 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
  John: You're the expert: if the Threesome was never about what-we'd-now-call-Creative-Agenda you'd know better than me.  Certainly Ron's identified CA in a way that lets us approach it more clearly and directly than the RGFAers ever had.  

Well, I should say I'm still somewhat torn about Creative Agenda.  I tried expressing what I saw as the split in the start of this thread, but Ron surprised me by saying that my Immersionism (i.e. rgfa Simulationism) was the same as GNS Simulationism.  I was concerned that a distinction that is still important to me (i.e. Immersionist/Fabulist) was getting confused with GNS Simulationism.  Still, I certainly agree that Ron's Narrativism and the Creative Agenda stuff is a very important addition to the arsenal of RPG theory (along with Lumpley Principle and plenty of other good discussion here).  

Quote from: lumpley
 Okay, now do I really suck so bad that I can't go read some old usenet?  Guess not.  Here's a quote, from you coincidentally:
Quote from: Long ago, relatively, John Kim
This is an ideal which I strike for in some of my games: a game where the players never ask or question what the "genre" is. Instead, they would tend to talk about the characters, the world, and how it works.  If asked what "genre" it is in, they would be hard-pressed to say.

Which is exactly what I mean: it looks like CA talk but actually isn't.  Your non-genre ideal serves a Creative Agenda, but which?  Impossible to say.  I don't intend to hold you to something you wrote in the past, naturally, it's just to show that there was attention paid to "what we get out of roleplaying" on RGFA.  Just a misidentification of techniques as such with "what we get out of."  

Actually, I'm thrilled to have rgfa brought up.  I think continuity of ideas is great.  My thoughts on role-playing have developed since then, in no small part thanks to The Forge, but what I wrote then still represents what I felt and to a large degree still feel.  

When I said that non-genre is my ideal, I mean just that -- it is a quality which I would ideally want to have in my Immersionist games.  In short, I like it.  That is still true.  I also play in and run genre-using games, but non-genre is still "an ideal which I strike for in some of my games" ... just like back then.  

Now, does this mean that if a game is non-genre that I will expect nothing else of it?  Of course not.  But the same is true of any other ideal.  I don't think there is any single isolated quality which would guarantee that I will enjoy a game.  There may be some games with moral Premise-addressing that I like, and some that I don't.  There may be some exploration that I like, and some that I don't.  My point is that I don't have a simple answer for "what I get out of a game".  

Quote from: lumpley
  (In fact I remember that conversation from first time around!  "Cough, cough!  'Genre-convention apologists'?  That's a rather cold dismissal of a valid approach to gaming."  I had to look "apologist" up in the dictionary!)  

Er, sorry about that, but I didn't say it!  It was Lea Crowe!  I think I was pretty good in that thread to always say that using genre conventions was a valid approach, even when I was extolling the virtues of non-genre.
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Silmenume
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« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2003, 03:09:25 AM »

Quote from: M. J. Young
I have the impression that you think simulationism is always about experiencing something; I think it can be about that, and/or about observing something. If you'll agree that there is a valid distinction here and that both are valid forms of simulationist play, then probably the disagreement we have is mere quibbles over specific instances; but if you're going to insist that experiencing is required and observing is something else, then we've got a major disagreement, I think.



Mr. Young, I am uncertain exactly how to articulate the dawning of my new understanding, but if you indulge me for a moment while I walk through my though process, I think I have found a way to meld our two thought processes.

I have thought long and hard on your "observation" method/goal(?) and how it fits into roleplay.  Obviously you do it, so it must fit in the model somehow.  I had a thought that I layed out in my http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=9137">Goals expressed and emergent Goals thread.  I was fishing around for terms and I used the word Goal in the title and later adopted the term, "central idea," espoused by Marhault, in reference to the 3 modes of play.  I am not saying that even this term is the correct one, but for the purposes of this thought experiment please stay with me.  The important idea for me was that one either did something to express X or one did something to in the hopes of experiencing the effects of doing X.

After a little more thought I think the following better expresses what I am trying to grapple with -

One does something and observes it effects on something external or one does something and experiences that act of doing internally.

In other words one could do something for the sake of observation it effects.  To use your example of the Knight and the Dragon, you place the two in direct conflict under certain circumstances (Knight of Level X - Dragon of Design Y) to observe the results of that conflict and then weigh the merits of the effects of a Knights level versus a Dragon of Design Y (meaning creation!) by referencing the results against the ability to reach victory.

I'll buy that, but here's the proviso.  Observation as a goal/method of play isn't something that is specific to Simulationism.  The nature of the doing something X determines which mode of play that action falls under.  For example a player may wish to do something specifically to see how that act will affect story creation, which to me makes it a narrativist act.  Because that act engages the "central idea" of story creation then it is an act that could be termed Narrativist.  A player could also do the same act that will affect story creation, but do so because the want to experience the joy, the delight, the satisfaction, etc., of creating and putting such an act into play that is also Narrativist.  So one could be doing something to either observe its effects (meaning creation) or to experience the act of doing (meaning creation) and still be in the same creative agenda.  The same could be applied for Simulationist play as well - you do something to observe its effects on something external to the player or you do something to experience internally the action of doing X, we just haven't settled yet what exactly Simulations play is.

Actually both reasons for action X, observe and experience, can be in operation at the same time.  The key here is in what ratio.  In the purely observational mode then observation motive is all and experience is nil, and I think the reverse extreme would be Turku or "Immersionist" - at least in reference to Simulationism.  The observationist goal/method tends to minimize the importance of empathizing with the character as character is more tool or construct while the experiential goal/method tends to maximize the importance of empathizing with the character.

Is this a possible way to reconcile your Observational and my Experiential motives?

Aure Entaluva,

Silmenume
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lumpley
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« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2003, 09:53:04 AM »

John, cool!

I knew it wasn't you who said it.  The whole "Cough, cough!" quote was from somebody later in the convo.

So if your Immersionism is an approach to Techniques, what is it?  Can you talk about it in concrete Technique terms, who gets to say what about what and when, without crossing over into CA territory?  Forget about GNS, forget about the in-game, can you pick apart the real live inter-player interactions and show us how they work?  After that, can you build a ruleset that works the same way, so we can try it ourselves?

I've been working to do the same to my own favorite approach to Techniques, co-GMing, ever since I first came here.

Meanwhile, there's no need to position your Immersionism relative to the GNS Creative Agendas, just like I don't need to position my co-GMing relative to them, just like random example game designer doesn't need to position her "I like d8s!" relative to them.  There's no more call to split the world into Nar/Imm Nar/Fab Sim/Imm Sim/Fab than there is to split it into Nar/d8-heavy Nar/d8-light.  What spans from Technical Approach to Creative Agenda is the individual game in play.

-Vincent
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Gordon C. Landis
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« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2003, 12:35:02 PM »

Hi all,

Vincent, Paul - thanks for jumping in.  I think my points are pretty much in agreement with yours.  John - to repeat myself (perhaps more clearly thanks to the additional input), I think the Immersion (rgfa-Sim) vs. GNS-Sim confusion came up simply because you included "in-game causes" as definitional to Immersionism.  But (I think) that's only PART of your definition, and you mean something different than the GNS "prioritize Exploration" by it - you mean (as Vincent and Paul seem to tease out) a preference for certain Techniques and styles.

I do think Immersionism, along with many outside-GNS preferences about Techniques, crosses with GNS a bit in that Techniques-in-action are the parts of a Creative Agenda.  I think an Immersionist preference is more likely to persue Sim, because the Techniques that it rejects turn out to be very useful for G and N.  At some point, to reject the Techniques of G or N is to reject G or N.

Given the difficult history of Immersionism on rgfa, here at the Forge, and elsewhere, I think it's no surprise that it turns out to be particularly problematic.  I find it immensely useful to have identified the places where Immersionism (as John means it - and as he's a veteran of the rgfa wars on the subject, I'll take his meaning with greater weight than many others) has nothing whatsoever to do with GNS, and to notice that it's the places where a little overlap does happen/can be seen to happen that cause much of the grief.

Gordon
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lumpley
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« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2003, 01:11:35 PM »

Quote from: Gordon
I do think Immersionism, along with many outside-GNS preferences about Techniques, crosses with GNS a bit in that Techniques-in-action are the parts of a Creative Agenda. I think an Immersionist preference is more likely to persue Sim, because the Techniques that it rejects turn out to be very useful for G and N. At some point, to reject the Techniques of G or N is to reject G or N.

I agree, maybe despite appearances to the contrary.  I'd say that it's hard to find a System that both satisfies Immersionist constraints and also serves Narrativism.  I expect that it's possible - John's very Water Uphill game might have employed such a System - but then that's still a big step short of designing a game that does it.

Similarly my co-GMing preference.  If you want both Narrativist play and co-GMed play, you have to solve some pretty tricky problems with who delivers adversity to whom.  I happen to know that they're solvable in action, but can I formalize the solutions I've seen into game rules, so other people can use 'em?  Maybe maybe not.  I haven't managed to yet.

-Vincent
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John Kim
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« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2003, 05:45:40 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
  So if your Immersionism is an approach to Techniques, what is it?  Can you talk about it in concrete Technique terms, who gets to say what about what and when, without crossing over into CA territory?  Forget about GNS, forget about the in-game, can you pick apart the real live inter-player interactions and show us how they work?  After that, can you build a ruleset that works the same way, so we can try it ourselves?

I've been working to do the same to my own favorite approach to Techniques, co-GMing, ever since I first came here.  

Well, as far as the very basics of system, I think that many systems are close to what I am looking for -- but few or none are exactly what I would want.  I was pretty satisfied with the HERO System except for the hideous learning curve.  I've had to change a bunch of things about the RuneQuest system for it to work with my Vinland game, and I'm still not satisfied with some (in particular unarmed combat and mass combat).  

I definitely have my peeves and problems with common systems, but I think most of my games wouldn't be called as mechanically innovative.  There are some sticky points, especially with personality mechanics and hero points -- but the distinctions are subtle.  My house system for the Water-Uphill campaign was related to CORPS and Fudge -- centered on skill + die roll vs difficulty.  (Edited to add: There was a rather unique magic system, but it was never completed to my satisfaction.)  

Currently I am pondering about what system I should use for an upcoming Star Trek campaign.  Currently I am pondering something loosely based on the Action! System.  I'll start a separate thread for it, I guess in the design forum.  

Quote from: lumpley
  There's no more call to split the world into Nar/Imm Nar/Fab Sim/Imm Sim/Fab than there is to split it into Nar/d8-heavy Nar/d8-light.  What spans from Technical Approach to Creative Agenda is the individual game in play.  

Well, but no one here thinks that d8s are a sure sign of Narrativism.  However, from reading various threads, it seemed to me that people seem to frequently identify Immersionism (i.e. rgfa Simulationism) with GNS Simulationism.
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lumpley
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« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2004, 05:26:36 AM »

Quote from: John
Well, as far as the very basics of system, I think that many systems are close to what I am looking for -- but few or none are exactly what I would want...

Okay, I get you.  But who gets to say what about what, and when?  I'm sure you've noticed, we thrive on subtle distinctions!  We are subtle distinction enthusiasts!

Maybe, down in Actual Play, choose your favorite past RGFA Simulationist episode of play and break out exactly how the inter-player / player-GM negotiations went.  Without for god sake without worrying about GNS Creative Agenda.

Not an easy question!  But if you want to show us what you're talking about, that's how.

-Vincent
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Jason Lee
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« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2004, 01:07:18 PM »

If you look at the whole model, it seems to me like Sim could simply be stripped out of the creative agenda layer and defined as the prioritization of the Exploration layer over the Creative Agenda (G/N) layer.  Likewise, the Fabulist approach is the prioritization of Creative Agenda over Exploration.  

As for immersion, MJ defining it as an individual technique makes oodles of sense to me (though I think it's ephemera, like stance).  This is probably because we are thinking of a similar type of immersion.

If you look at the whole model like individual cogs in a machine, instead of arches in a long hallway, I think a lot of this is accounted for.  It also accounts for other things not part of this discussion; like the social gamer (social contract over everything else), and the heavy immersionist (ephemera over everything else).  I know this is contradictory to the model.

Less is more - that's what I've been thinking anyway.
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John Kim
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« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2004, 02:10:49 PM »

Quote from: lumpley
  Okay, I get you.  But who gets to say what about what, and when?  I'm sure you've noticed, we thrive on subtle distinctions!  We are subtle distinction enthusiasts!

Maybe, down in Actual Play, choose your favorite past RGFA Simulationist episode of play and break out exactly how the inter-player / player-GM negotiations went.  Without for god sake without worrying about GNS Creative Agenda.  

OK, I'll see about trying to writing up game observations in more detail.  I have talked about some episodes and personal observations about my games at various times.  Here are some references:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=5113">Confused over Simulationism + example campaign (Feb 7, 2003)
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6178">Plotless but Background-based Games (Apr 22, 2003)
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=7297">Shadows in the Fog Playtest (Jul 24, 2003)
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=8812">Open Play for the Soul (Nov 26, 2003)

I wasn't thrilled at the progress of the SitF playtest discussion, but I agree 100% that examples and actual play are vital.  My current Vinland campaign isn't as strictly rgfa Simulationist as some of my previous campaigns, though it certainly has strong influences.  Unfortunately, I didn't keep very good records of my Water-Uphill game, and it's been a little over three years -- so it's a little hard to talk details.  I'll see about writing up more on my convention game "Extra Credit" and some discussion of Vinland.
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