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Author Topic: Jason's Unified Theory of Exploration  (Read 4674 times)
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« on: February 18, 2004, 03:46:51 PM »

I've split this out of zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration!

This is my take on the lumpley principle, IIEE, search and handling, points of contact (vanilla/pervy), and Fidelity (verisimilitude/integrity).



System simply assigns credibility, or controls what is integrated into the SIS (lumpley principle). Here's the process of System, and hence the process of Exploration which System regulates:

Conception:
In the head of the player. What the player wants to accomplish.
Player, "I think I'm going to have my character whack the orc with his sword."

Proposal:
The player makes a statement of his intent.
Player, "Bob the Mighty whacks the orc with his sword."

Validation:
The player's statement is validated.
GM, "Roll for it Nancy Bob."
Players, "Damn it Bob! Can I change dice?"


Integration:
The results of validation are integrated. The statement is either rejected or accepted.
GM, "You miss. The orc ducks out of the way."

Please note, this is infinitely recursive. For example, Conception may proceed through Conception -> Proposal -> Validation -> Integration (Player, "Uhh... what do I do? Do I have a sword? Hold on, lemme check my sheet. Ok, I've got a sword I'm going to whack the orc with it.")

Also note, this is similar to the steps of IIEE, but is not the same. I think it's better because it focuses solely on the player (not muddling up character/player with the second I), isn't confined to action resolution, and integrates the lumpley principle.



I'd prefer to talk about time in an individual stage of CPVI as opposed to search and handling time, which do not map directly to IIEE.  System may slow down at any stage, but most attention to speed in game design seems to be on the Validation stage.

Examples of time factors in each phase of System:

Conception:
Deciding upon a statement.  
The number of available options the player has to choose from has a tendency to cause people to slow down.

Proposal:
Making the statement.  
Slow downs tend to occur because of poor regulation of the proposal process.  This can be seen when groups try to run without using an initiative mechanic, but can't quite figure out how.

Validation:
Validating the statement.
Delays occur because of the time needed to arrive at a consensus about the statement.  For example, the time it takes to make and interpret dice rolls.

Integration:
Processing the statement into the SIS.
Delays seem to largely hinge upon how much information needs to be integrated.



Points of contact are simply how often this process is regulated by mechanics.  Most of the time the process cycles through in a moment.  For example, "Bob picks up his cup of coffee."  This still had to pass through Conception -> Proposal -> Validation -> Integration, but because the Validation mechanism was simply the unstated phrase "No argument here, go ahead." instead of a mechanical element, we can say that event had low points of contact.  This applies to phases other than Validation (The Integration of Bob picking up his coffee is also not mechanically regulated) - Validation is just the easiest to example.
 


An individual may have different Fidelity thresholds for each Explored element.  What is meant by Fidelity threshold is the minimum expectations for how "realistic" an Explored element is supposed to be.  Any agenda (GNS) may require high levels of integrity in an Explored element, independent of their threshold in another element.  

I also believe that people tend toward 'variable control' on Exploration elements that are not their current focus.  Meaning, force is used to maintain the status of an Explored element if unexpected events in that element would disrupt the primary Exploration focus.  For example, keeping Setting fixed to focus on Character aspects (My Life with Master?).

The points of contact help maintain the Fidelity threshold by continually Validating statements before Integration.  Points of contact also help maintain 'variable control' in the same fashion.



Well, there you go.  I'm sure I've left stuff out, but I'm also sure that stuff will surface eventually.  Thoughts?
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2004, 10:56:29 PM »

I really wish that these fascinating ideas wouldn't come up on days when I am so far behind that I have no idea what I'm doing.

My initial reaction is that there's something here, but it may take me a few days before I know what it is.

--M. J. Young
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clehrich
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« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2004, 10:07:11 AM »

Jason,

I love this!  I just wrote a long post about it and its implications in this thread on zplay.

Chris Lehrich
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2004, 12:04:58 PM »

M.J.,

Heh, I know what you mean.  So much all at once.  I've really wanted to follow all the religion and gender threads in theory, but time has forced me to pick my battles.

Anyway, I'm in no rush.  I'm sure you'll have something good to say when you get a chance to say it.
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Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2004, 12:22:02 PM »

Chris,

I'm going to reply to your CPVI specific stuff here instead of in zplay - liberating Sim and embarrassing Exploration! (Which is an awesome post, by the way.  I need to think on it a bit before I can say anything related to zilchplay other than 'whoa'.)

Quote from: Chris
It strikes me that this is interestingly similar to some classic semiotic models, i.e. models for how signs and language manage to communicate meaning. I’m not going to go on a long rant about semiotics here — that would be a very different thread! — but I do want to note that we could align Jason’s model to a semiotic one in these terms:

Conception is idea or concept
Proposal is Sign, the actual unit of communication
Validation is Interpretation by what’s sometimes called an Interpretant, which just means the person who has to do the interpreting
Integration constructs an imagined Referent, a thing to which the Sign refers


That's just neat.

Quote from: Chris
First, the classic, never-answered question in semiotics is how you get from Sign to Referent. If by Referent you mean an actual physical thing, the answer is you don’t. But here, you actually do, because all Referents are part of an imagined space, not a physical one. Thus things (referents) are actually constructed through signification (Proposals, language, signs, etc.).

Second, because of this first problem, the sticking-point in these sorts of models is commonly that between Jason’s Proposal and his Integration, which is to say it’s when the GM (or whoever) has to Validate the Proposal, or Interpret the Sign. This is in fact what we’ll find is the central issue in Exploration.


That makes quite a bit of sense, considering games devote a lot of attention to Validation.  They are trying to create a clear-cut conversation system to eliminate the sticking-point.

Quote from: Chris
The only important points I’d change or clarify in Jason’s model for this purpose are:
– this isn’t always about player and GM; really, it’s any two players, or any player and any other with the power to Validate a Proposal
– a Proposal need not be spoken, as it can include things like rolling dice. It’s really anything that amounts to a sign that requires interpretation by another player. Umberto Eco has said that a sign is anything that can be used to lie; in this context, we could say that a Proposal is anything that can turn out to be false, i.e. negatively Validated.


Total agreement.  Honestly, I never meant to imply otherwise.  (See I knew the left out stuff would surface.)

Quote from: Chris
This reminds me of some old threads about No Myth gamemastering. Fang Langford emphasized this “myth” that prepared material was already present in the game, and said that on the contrary, nothing is present in the shared space until it’s, well, shared. The semiotic model would support that conclusion: you can Explore a pre-prepared space, just as you can Explore a totally open-ended one, and either way it requires addition because it requires successive Abductions and Deductions.


Fang's myth of reality discussions were a big influence on this idea, so it doesn't surprise me that it reminds you of them. ;)



And a question:

I'm still fuzzy on Induction, Deduction, and Abduction.  I read the words and I know what the words say, but I don't think I'm grasping the concept.  Can you define them?
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clehrich
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« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2004, 01:37:17 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
Total agreement.  Honestly, I never meant to imply otherwise.  (See I knew the left out stuff would surface.)
Yup, I thought so.  I used the word "clarification" in case I was totally misreading you, but it sounds like we're on the same page.
Quote
Fang's myth of reality discussions were a big influence on this idea, so it doesn't surprise me that it reminds you of them. ;)
Aha!  As Holmes would say.
Quote
I'm still fuzzy on Induction, Deduction, and Abduction.  I read the words and I know what the words say, but I don't think I'm grasping the concept.  Can you define them?
I'll certainly try.

Deduction
I know that there is a general principle that says that acceleration goes at 9.8m/s^2.  So I predict that if I drop this ball-bearing, it will hit the ground at exactly the following time.  This is Deduction: prediction on the basis of previously-known principles.

Induction
I have data on lots and lots of balls falling.  Because I happen to be a genius named Isaac Newton, I guess that the general principle that governs this is that gravity is 9.8m/s^2.  This is Induction: derivation of an underlying principle on the basis of data.

Abduction
I have lots and lots of balls <grin>.  Because I am very clever indeed, I see that if the world worked such that gravity were always 9.8m/s^2, this would explain why the data looks like it does.  This is Abduction: working from data to a picture or story that makes the data obvious.

Now in this example, Induction and Abduction look the same, which is why this rarely comes up in this sort of simplistic scientific question.  Here’s a better example to distinguish the two:

------

Sherlock Holmes views John Watson, M.D., who has just entered at 221B Baker Street.  Watson has mud on his shoes, a bag in his hand, and chalk on his right thumb and index-finger.

Holmes thinks:
That chalk is blue, as is usual for pool-cue chalk.  Let’s suppose Watson has been playing pool.  Now I know his wife, Mary, née Morstan, hates it when he plays pool.  Watson is a rather straight chap, and would probably feel guilty if he’s been playing pool.  So let’s suppose the jewelry in that bag (which is labeled for a particular shop) is a present for Mrs. Watson, who incidentally likes necklaces, to make Dr. Watson feel less guilty.  So what about the mud?

Well, I know that that mud can currently be found around Marble Arch, where they’re ripping up the street.  I know that the jeweler in question has premises a block east of Marble Arch.  I know that going through Marble Arch to get here to Baker Street is inconvenient anyway, so it seems likely that he went through Marble Arch before going to the jeweler.  I know that Watson belongs to a club two blocks west of Marble Arch, and that they have a pool table.

Abduction:
Watson went to his club, played pool, felt guilty, went east through Marble Arch to the jeweler, bought a necklace for Mrs. Watson to make himself feel better, then came here.

I also happen to know that the doorman at that club is named Carlton, and that he’s been ill lately.  Watson is a physician.

Deduction:
It is conceivable that Watson examined Carlton, and that’s what he was doing at the club in the first place.

Holmes now says:
“Ah, Watson.  I hope Carlton is feeling better?  And I certainly hope Mrs. Watson's necklace didn't set you farther back than your profits!”

Watson leaps up, hitting the ceiling.  “But Holmes!  This is amazing!  How could you know that I examined him just this morning?  And how could you know about my surprise present for Mary?”

Cut to typical explanation scene.

Note that there are many other possible explanations.  Mrs. Watson's necklace might already have been on order, and Watson picked it up before he went to his club.  He might then have decided that what she doesn't know won't hurt her, and not worried about the guilt.  He might, after picking up the necklace, have been kidnaped by a sinister Chinaman who dumped him immediately in Marble Arch for no obvious reason, and he decided then to play some pool to get his nerve back.  But these things would require vast additions to the story.  Abduction is about the simplest possible solution to the problem -- whatever is possible, and no more; discard the impossible, and whatever remains must be true.

Now Holmes might draw an inference here.  Watson has provided one further piece of information, which is that he saw Carlton in the morning.  Holmes has, in fact, noticed that Watson usually refers to people he sees (as a physician) as having been examined in the morning.

Induction:
Watson, and possibly most general practitioners, see their patients in the mornings for preference.

This can now be factored into future Abductions.  For example, taking exactly the same story as above, suppose Holmes enters and sees Watson, not the other way around, and this happens at 5:00 pm.  Holmes’s abduction now includes the idea that Watson saw Carlton in the morning, and he may very well have also had lunch at the club.

Holmes: “Ah, Watson.  I hope that discussing Carlton’s illness did not put you off your lunch at the Whatsis Club?”

Does this help at all?

Chris Lehrich
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2004, 01:31:33 PM »

Quote from: clehrich
Does this help at all?


Just though I should reply.

Yes it does help.  I'm still processing the Abduction/Induction distinction.
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clehrich
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2004, 08:06:57 PM »

Jason,

Let me know if you want the formal definitions.  I find it much easier to deal with the specific case versions -- Induction goes to general principles, Abduction to an overarching structure that fits this large set of data, Deduction to a single predicted datum -- but I'll be happy to look them up.  It's only across the room, after all.

Incidentally, Eco and Sebeok's The Sign of Three goes into this in considerable detail, if you actually want to apply it to something specific.

Chris Lehrich
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2004, 05:39:42 PM »

Chris,

If you wouldn't mind terribly, that'd be great.  I'm going to wander off into Points of Contact stuff soon, but I want deal with the semiotics stuff first.

Heh.  Guess I'll be adding semiotics to the list of RPG related fields I need to read up on (already included are game theory, literary theory, group psychology, and human/software interface principles).
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clehrich
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2004, 11:52:54 PM »

Jason,

My last long post on the zplay thread includes quotes from Eco and Peirce that should provide a formal definition.  I'll look for a pure logic one, but it may take a bit.  It wasn't exactly where I thought it was!

Chris Lehrich
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Chris Lehrich
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2004, 03:16:27 PM »

Chris,

Cool, I found 'em.  Yes, I'm still think about it.  

I put the little hamster that turns the gears in my head on a low sugar diet, so he's sort of sluggish these days.  I think he'll be healthier for it in the end.
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- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2004, 03:17:09 PM »

Quote from: I
Points of contact are simply how often this process is regulated by mechanics.  Most of the time the process cycles through in a moment.  For example, "Bob picks up his cup of coffee."  This still had to pass through Conception -> Proposal -> Validation -> Integration, but because the Validation mechanism was simply the unstated phrase "No argument here, go ahead." instead of a mechanical element, we can say that event had low points of contact.  This applies to phases other than Validation (The Integration of Bob picking up his coffee is also not mechanically regulated) - Validation is just the easiest to example.


Recent threads have brought to light a need to redefine this.  'Regulated by mechanics' should be replaced by 'regulated by an external agent'.  Mechanics are one form of points of contact, but a player having to pass a statement through the GM for Validation is also a point of contact.

Allegedly rules-light systems that require constant GM regulation of actions could therefore, and I think rightfully so, be considered to have high points of contact.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2004, 03:22:08 PM »

Hi Jason,

That's a home run for you. In all the the Points-of-Contact threads, including the crucial Pervy/Vanilla one (see the Infamous Five sticky at the top of Site Discussion), I say over and over:

Unconstructed Drama resolution (what many call "free-form") is the most demanding and problematic in terms of its constant Points of Contact. You literally have to re-invent the rules constantly in order to play.

Best,
Ron
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pete_darby
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2004, 01:08:44 AM »

It's also why, while I'm prime cheerleader for using dramatic improvisation techniques for role-play, I consider the existence of system in rpg's to be more conducive to collaborative creativity than pure improvisation. It helps manage points of ambiguity much better than "presumed peer approval."
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Pete Darby
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2004, 02:47:49 PM »

Points of Contact

Whoo hoo!  Agreed.  I had noticed I said otherwise, as that needed fixing.

Unstructured Drama Resolution

What Proposals are Integrated is the entire shape of events (how Premise is answered, what is addressed, what solutions overcome the challenges, etc).  The criteria for Validation in unstructured drama resolution is the personal (or perceived) priorities of whoever the Validation authority is.

Mechanical implementation of system can clarify game goals, giving everybody a clear picture of how theme is colored/effected/created (GURPS likes "realistic" detail, for example).  These guidelines are absent in unstructure drama resolution, unless clearly stated in the social contract.  Even then, specific details will most likely be internal to the Validation authority, and therefore not fully understood by the group.  (I'm specifically speaking of unstructured drama resolution with a single GM).
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