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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Daniel B on November 14, 2008, 08:59:45 PM



Title: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 14, 2008, 08:59:45 PM
Hi folks,

this is a continuation of a topic brought up in "First Thoughts" but I'll repost the key points so you don't have to go hunting. I had posted a link to an article discussing issues to consider for game designers building MUDs or MMOGs more generally (multi-user dungeons, massively multiplayer online games). The article is at: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm (http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm)

The article suggests that there are four major categories for any given activity that a player can participate in, those categories being described as: Social, Explorer, Achiever, or Killer. The article also states that players can and do drift between the four categories from moment-to-moment, but tend to have a preferred mix, a playstyle that is composed of some proportion of the four categories.

I won't go into GNS here, since many of you know it and newbies will all have ample access to descriptions of it on this site. (That said, I find the "Search" function to be a pain. Try googling into the Forge for original source documents if you have trouble.)

I had posted that I believed there were strong parallels between GNS theory and Bartle's model. Objections stated that the two theories, GNS/Creative Agenda and Bartle's four-quadrant theory were essentially incompatible because the virtual world of MMOGs is generated by a computer, while the shared-imagined space of regular P&P RPGs must be co-generated by the players involved. Therefore, while a player can easily find aspects within an MMOG to satisfy him, this is not true of P&P RPGs. In such games, each player goes in with expectations of the other players of how they'll help to fulfill the ultimate purpose "having fun" and, if those expectations are not communicated ahead of time and agreed upon, the game will almost inevitably fail. In short, Bartle's categoizations are individual-centric while the Big Model, and therefore GNS, is group-centric, making Bartle's categorizations not so useful in P&P RPG analysis.

It seems to me that the objection basically reduces to the following. (Those who put forth the objection, please correct me if I've interpreted incorrectly !!!)
  • 1.) Big Model deals with a tiny player collective
  • 2.) Big Model implies GNS
  • 3.) Bartles deals with individiual players in a (virtually) limitless collective
  • Therefore Bartles is not similar to GNS

While I certainly agree that the reason most P&P RPGs fail (in practice) is because players come in with clashing creative agendas, I must disagree with the premises of the objections as they were given to me, on two counts.

Firstly, it seems to me that premise #2 is a bit backwards. You can't know what sort of possible group dynamics can exist until you first examine the individuals that go into a group. For example, the "Gamist" style wouldn't exist if human beings were incapable of caring about competition, and yet the "Big Model" would still stand, somewhat, because the goals of someone with a Simulationist-oriented agenda would be different than the goals of someone with a Narrativist-oriented agenda. (This example is extreme, but I hope it makes my point.) I therefore think that the Big Theory does not imply GNS, but rather the Big Theory must be built on TOP of the GNS.

Secondly, IF we accept that GNS is separate from the Big Theory, it becomes strictly an individual-centric theory and therefore can be analyzed in exactly the same regard that one would analyze Bartle's.

I had expressed my analysis in the first article, but I'll repost my analysis here since (I'm hoping) you'll see why I believe GNS and Bartle's are interchangeable within the Big Theory. Since GNS deals with players strictly in a small-scale (ie limited-players) environment, the actions of an individual player are necessarily influenced and homogenized by the group, either verbally, through their actions, or their verbal and nonverbal communications.

Bartle's, on the other hand, approaches it from the opposite perspective. Players are placed into an environment where they are free to choose whatever play-style they prefer, and are almost completely uninfluenced by the playstyle of others. So I think the player categories here are purer, as in, closer to the way people actually play.

Incidentally, I do not believe that CRPGs are significantly different from gamist- or simulationist-style P&P RPGs. What is the computer server, if not a dumb, inflexible GM? What is a virtual world if not a Shared-Imagined Space? (That ogre is not an ogre, it's a collection of bits on a server. Yet, it still can evoke the same emotional reaction as the ogre you dreamed up with your D&D buddies.) Therefore, one ought to be able to talk about MMOGs in all the same contexts as P&P RPGs that heavily favour the gamist/simulationist styles of play.

Just my opinions,
Shallow Thoughts


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 15, 2008, 02:51:46 AM
Well, let me put it like this. when I play a P&P RPG, I interact with people to sharedly imagine a space and back again. Thatīs what (as the Big Model says) P&P RPGs are. Computer games? I can play those alone. They donīt NEED a SIS, they just need that last S. Thatīs why I think Bartle isnīt to helpful for me designing and playing my P&P games.
Also, I think your critique of the Big Model is wrong, but this is "actual play", not "amateur theory hour" where I would freely make up stuff defending it :) .

Second thing is, you come here defending Bartle. Why? I donīt care much if heīs "right". I said heīs wrong concerning P&P because it is not possible to have a world-action without people-interaction in P&P. But I donīt really care if heīs wrong. I care if he can help me. Let me try it like this... Letīs for the sake of argument accept that CRPGs of any kind are gam or sim (sim happens on the roleplayer servers, PvE servers are for gam/sim, PvP is for gam and griefing is kind of dysfuntional gam). What could Bartle provide us with now?
Bartles terminology helps us further distinguish gam and sim play into subcategories; some gamist, for example, want to beat other players (I played with someone who would always have us make up characters first so he knew which stats he was aiming to beat) or the "world" as provided by the GM (thatīs how I play shadowrun; I try to analyse a situation and beating it with dice). In the world of CRPGs, rolelayers need 1. to be left alone by non-roleplayers, 2. other roleplayers, thatīs why they get roleplaying servers. "Explorers" need to be left alone by griefers; thatīs why they get PvE servers.
But we already know that if weīve read the Step On Up article. Same goes for the different kinds of sim (The Right To Dream if memory serves). Itīs already been said clearly and concerning P&Ps. We KNOW that there are different kinds of sim and different RPGs have been written, different kinds of fun have been had bearing that in mind. Bartle is, even should we believe him, old news.

So, where exactly could Bartle help me? Tell me something new?


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 15, 2008, 05:58:36 AM
Well, let me put it like this. when I play a P&P RPG, I interact with people to sharedly imagine a space and back again. Thatīs what (as the Big Model says) P&P RPGs are. Computer games? I can play those alone. They donīt NEED a SIS, they just need that last S. Thatīs why I think Bartle isnīt to helpful for me designing and playing my P&P games.

Firstly, I want us both to take a step back and breathe :) Please don't interpret my posts as confrontational. (When I write them, the voice in my head is matter-of-factly.)

An SIS is created from two necessary components: two or more imaginations (the sources) and a means of communicating these imaginings. It's just that, in the case of computer games, the designers do all the imagining up front and let the computer do the communicating later. Even when you are alone at home on your computer, you see that manipulation of pixels on your screen and think "ogre". The designer's imagination is being shared with you. When you imagine your character wielding your axe against that ogre, you communicate it with the mouse and keyboard, and therefore are sharing your imagination with them. Electronic virtual worlds are a very narrowly defined subset of SIS's, but they are SIS's nonetheless unless the definition of SIS.


Second thing is, you come here defending Bartle. Why? I donīt care much if heīs "right". I said heīs wrong concerning P&P because it is not possible to have a world-action without people-interaction in P&P. But I donīt really care if heīs wrong. I care if he can help me. Let me try it like this... Letīs for the sake of argument accept that CRPGs of any kind are gam or sim (sim happens on the roleplayer servers, PvE servers are for gam/sim, PvP is for gam and griefing is kind of dysfuntional gam). What could Bartle provide us with now?
So, where exactly could Bartle help me? Tell me something new?

A few things with this:
  • I don't like to discuss "right" or "wrong" theories of game design, only ones that are more or less likely to produce a fulfilling game experience, which may depend on your audience.
  • You first divvy up servers into GNS categories, before asking if the HCDS categories can help you. This is not a constructive way of examining a theory on it's own terms.
  • Bartle's article was written strictly about MMOGs. Therefore, he can't be "wrong about P&P" here because the article puts forth no opinion on the subject. (I'll start refering to them as the Hearts/Clubs/Diamonds/Spades or HCDS categories for this sake)
  • I brought the article here of my own volition, despite the fact that it was written about MMOGs and not P&P's, because of the parallels I see. If you don't see them, you're perfectly within your rights to totally disregard everything I say.
  • I never claimed the article is "right". My exact wording was that the HCDS categories were purer than GNS.

I can see how that last one may have aroused ire. Let me be clear: I think that if we're going to go about categorizing something, we ought to try and make it so our categories are mutually exclusive, for the sake of ease-of-use and clarity. This is not always possible (e.g. spork = fork or spoon???). I would argue that the GNS categories, while somewhat distinct, are not as mutually exclusive as the HCDS.

For example: stabbing an orc with your longsword. What type of activity is that? Gamist? (I wanna rack up XP!) Narrativist? ("Bob the Barbarian, aware that the race of orcs are prone to kill without provocation or mercy, lunges!") By the HCDS categories, the action is very clearly an achiever-type action, because the player's character is acting upon the game universe, although the player himself need not be an achiever-type player (and may in fact prefer a style of play that is very, very different usually). Again, I am not trying to say HCDS is "better" than GNS.

Soundmasterj, you also mentioned that you disagreed with my application of HCDS to P&P because in order for there to be world-interaction, there must first be people-interaction. Hmm, does that also mean that, for me to imagine that the hero of an action movie is battling an alien, I must first have a solid real-life emotional relationship with the actor who portrays the hero? No; typically I only have an emotional "relationship" with the character. The two are distinctly different.

The "player-interaction" referred to in the HCDS article is strictly in regards to real human-emotional contact. Asking the GM if he's heard about that new alien movie is an example of this type of interaction out-of-game, and asking an ogre (played by the GM) whether it's possible not to eat you (in character) is an in-game example. However, asking the GM whether a tree in the world is a pine or an elm would be world-interaction. Sure, you need to actually TALK to a human being to decide if the SIS contains a pine tree, but the character is imagined to be physically examining the tree, so the inter-player communication is incidental.

Bartles terminology helps us further distinguish gam and sim play into subcategories;
<snip snip>

Well .. the chicken and the egg. Does HCDS further distinguish GNS, or visa versa? You can fit one into the other with some twists, but a better question is, which is more productive? I refer back to my argument on clear categorization.


I'll sincerely be glad to read and think about your rebuttal, Soundmasterj. I hope you can do the same without prejudice.






Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 15, 2008, 06:32:43 AM
Hey guys,

First, let me be the primary overseer of intellectual discipline and respect.

Second, this forum is called actual play for a reason. Please ground your points in discussions of what has really happened in a game of yours. Otherwise things will degenerate.

To be clear about what that means, I am not talking about case-studies for evidence, but for clarity of what you're describing.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 15, 2008, 07:13:46 AM
Hu? I didnīt read you as confrontational in the slightest. Did you read me thusly? Well, Iīm sorry - what did I say?

Quote
When I write them, the voice in my head is matter-of-factly
Me, I sound like Batman.

I feel you didnīt get what I meant by people-interacting, you didnīt get what I was trying to point out when I said how the "SI" of SIS behaves differently between P&P and C/O (computer/online). Because this world is a role-playing server with a very strict moderator (Law oīPhysic), I canīt just mind-control you, Iīll have to make us both agree by using words.
I can enjoy a movie all alone. If a movie neccesarily had a SHARED IMAGINED space, Iīd need you over to also watch it and suspend your disbelief and agree that that guy up there isnīt the current governor of california, but a robot from the future. And I donīt. I just need me to agree. I play WoW (and I donīt), I donīt NEED you or anybody else to agree I made that orc dead, I just need the computer to agree (and he doesnīt imagine).
D&D on the other hand? Say we roll dice, I say, the orc gets 110 Damage, heīs dead where are my XP! You say, what orc, you just rolled dice? I donīt know, wanna play Yathzee? Thatīs what you say. Now I didnīt kill an orc, I just made an ass out of myself. When we play D&D however, the rules make us agree that an orc just died.

Next thing, I REALLY donīt think Bartlespeak is telling us anything new at all. If we didnīt already know that two gamists, one trying to beat other players, the other trying to beat "NPCs", have conflicting goals; or, say, a gamist and a simulationist; it might be news, but it isnīt.

Ok. I have some "actual play" here because this is "Actual Play" or something. I just got where the "narr" is in MMORPGs. Itīs in the metagame, the really great scale: http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=527  http://www.shacknews.com/featuredarticle.x?id=564
Every "guild" or "clan" or whatever Iīve ever read about or seen personally produces drama. Lots of drama. And nobody found a way to manage that, yet.
I find that interesting.

Itīs like, in MMORPGs, there isnīt a mechanism for grand narrative (a Metaplot as many games provide is sim, not narr), so the narrativist are the grand-griefers. The only place for REAL protagonism is in the metagame because computers suck at encouraging protagonism yet. How could a PC game with real protagonism work?


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 15, 2008, 07:33:38 AM
Yeah ok, with Rons friendly reminder about how this is actual play, Iīd like to clarify that the two links I posted lead to a very story-like writeup of a huge "war" in the sandbox MMORPG Eve-Online. The griefers beat the role-players in this case and it reads like fiction. It also shows how the metagame is needed for actually making wars about something; there is no story when itīs just watching at pixels explode, but when some griefers set up thousands of players against each other for some actual reason, story emerges.
Itīs... Itīs hard do understand. But interesting in the context of Big Model / GNS / play theory (ah, and game theory, too).

I would like to talk about how I never cared for WoW becuase players wouldnīt really influence the story, but Iīm not sure thatīs what youīre going for ShallowThoughts.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 15, 2008, 08:15:23 AM
Hiya,

I am talking about your actual play. When you make a statement about, for instance, what the SIS is or how it's produced, or when you draw a conclusion based on how the MMORPG thing is or isn't like it, then no one will be able to understand unless you describe what (again for instance) an SIS is for you, in your experience, with all the trimmings - system, events in the fiction, real people doing what, the works. Long experience shows that without that information, these conversations are hopeless.

I've found that if a person's point is understood and appreciated, and if he or she sees that this is happening, then the ideas can be subjected to extraordinary critique. Let's do that and have no more talk about who understood whom to have said what in such-and-such a way.

"Shallow Thoughts," it's not required, but it would be extremely helpful if we knew your first name. Soundmasterj's name is Jona.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: jag on November 15, 2008, 10:37:38 AM
I'm glad this topic was brought up.  Although i haven't played the newer generation MMORPGs, i spent an embarrassingly large portion of my teenage years playing and administering a MUD, and that has left indelible marks on my P&P RPG design process.  I think MUDs/etc actually provide a very interesting lens with which to view P&P RPGs, and that we can learn much from them.

However, I'm unclear as to what the actual questions are.  I'm going to paraphrase what i think might be the questions and what might not be the questions, and ShallowThoughts -- as the originator and thus director of the thread -- please tell me if I have it right or not.

First, the "not question".  I don't think anyone is really disagreeing on the SIS as applied to P&P and MUDs, they are just disagreeing on terminology.  In the P&P world, the SIS is a set of facts that all participants agree on.  In order for play to continue functionally, these need to include the resolutions to conflicts, and other quantitative matters.  They never include all possible colour, since my mental image of the ogre will be somewhat different than yours.  A given game might fall anywhere in between these two extremes, and is negotiated (implicitly or explicitly) amongst the small group of participants involved.  In the MUD world, the computer decides on all quantitative matters (with possible input from admins/gods), and gives you a basis for much of the colour that you can accept or reject as you wish.  If you all agree, I'd like to declare this as a Common Starting Position, and not confuse the other important issues by arguing whether the first S in SIS applies to the MUD world.

My understanding of the question is as follows:  HCDS is a classification scheme designed for players in MUDs.  The Big Model is a theory of P&P RPGs, which includes in it a classification scheme of Creative Agendas.  Creative Agendas are a purpose of play coupled with coherent reinforcements of that purpose, and after some years of wrangling it was felt that there were three distinct CAs, Gamism, Simulationism, and Narrativism.  Coherent modes of P&P play can be described in terms GNS; can HCDS be taken from the MUD world and also be applied to P&P play?  If so, are these two categorizations equivalent, in the sense that any situation described in one framework can be described in the other?

If this is the question, then i have things to say and examples to give.  If this isn't the question, could you succinctly write what is the question?

Thanks,
James


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 15, 2008, 04:06:56 PM
Hi there,

name's Dan.

Coherent modes of P&P play can be described in terms GNS; can HCDS be taken from the MUD world and also be applied to P&P play?  If so, are these two categorizations equivalent, in the sense that any situation described in one framework can be described in the other?

Actually James, your whole post is spot on and I'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions.


Jona, on SIS's.. I think we may be disagreeing because you seem to require that "bi-directional" sharing in your definition of the term SIS, i.e. I think you're saying that it's not sharing unless both participants share with each other. However, consider this: where did Spiderman come from? You didn't invent him, certainly. You don't need friends over to think "Gee, I sure hope he doesn't die and gets Mary Jane in the end". The writer or director of the movie is sharing the imaginary characters he invented with you. Granted, you can't share anything with the writer/director (except your money, possibly), but that doesn't stop it from being a shared, imaginary space.

As for games like WoW, again, the game-authors are sharing their imagination with you, unidirectionally. They decided that if an ogre reaches 0 HP, it dies in the context of the game. You don't need anyone else to agree that the ogre you just killed is in fact dead ... because someone at Blizzard already made that decision for you. The computer is there to enforce these SIS rules.

Asking where's the place for Narrativism in an MMORPG is, again, effectively trying to reduce HCDS into GNS terms, but trying to cram one terminology into the other doesn't help much. The only reason I drew parallels between GNS and HCDS in the first place was to try and demonstrate that GNS is a bit lacking in describing the total set of player goals. You see, while I can describe GNS in terms of HCDS, not all player activities that can be described within HCDS are capable of being described in GNS. Furthermore, actions have a clear placement on the HCDS axes, but cannot easily be placed within any one GNS category and often fit into two or all three.

An actual play example; one member of the group (with whom I do not play anymore) got his thrills by taking goods off my dead-but-could-come-back-soon corpse. (He stole my precious ring of invisibility, and our cleric could raise me!! GRR!) This is a case of mismatched expectations of gameplay, but in particular, "Killer" (or "Club") behaviour of the HCDS. You might squeeze this type of behaviour into gamism, possibly simulationism, or maybe even with a stretch of the imagination, narrativism, but the fit is ambiguous (and for me, the ambiguity is uncomfortable .. why make up categories if they don't categorize?)

A related example, this same friend regularly ignored the requests of another buddy of mine to allow for social encounters by rushing into combat. (I remember one case in particular, when orcs were sitting around a campfire just talking and eating rabbit. The DM was a bit pissed off too, because he had thought we would try and discover their motives first, and learn they were on the good side.) More to the point, this person seemed to actively enjoy rushing into combat precisely because it pissed off my other buddy. This sort of behaviour could be labelled as gamism, but I don't believe this label gets to the heart of the motivation of the player.


Ta,
Dan aka Shallow Thoughts


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 15, 2008, 05:11:30 PM
Hiya,

Here's some GNS talk: Spider-Man doesn't have anything to do with the theory-topic here. In the earlier thread, I specified shared imagined, not imaginary space. By "imagined," I mean that fictional imagery and events are being actively produced, not merely received, and by "shared," I mean that they are occurring as communication. It's not enough to imagine, one must verbalize it, and that verbalization must be received and importantly acknowledged (reinforced) as such. That's the medium of role-playing (as discussed here).

People watching a movie together are not involved in an SIS. People who've read the same comic are not involved in an SIS. Even one person reading a story to another isn't an SIS. Only people actively producing imagined material, describing it, and using what they hear from one another to produce and describe more, create the circumstances of the hobby we're talking about. (I'll acknowledge that "type" and "read" could be substituted for on-line play, although to me it's like eating an apple through a paper bag.) Your interpretation of the term is not matching what I'm talking about in my essays or the body of theory formed here; you're describing fiction of any kind, whereas that term was invented to describe a unique medium for fiction. Jona's got it exactly right.

(As a side point, this is not to mean that anyone can't call boffer LARP or MMORPG "role-playing" if they want to. Of course they can; "role-playing" is a legacy term with no definition. But the actual thing being so labeled is a different thing, in terms of raw substance.)

You're also committing the extremely common error of thinking that the concept of Creative Agenda (the three terms) is somehow supposed to produce an entire taxonomy of play and players, all by itself. It's not. I may be wrong, but it is possible that you have read "System Does Matter," but not the other essays. If that's the case, then I recommend the first two pages of the Provisional Glossary, which includes seven terms and a diagram - the only material at the Forge which was written to be introductory, actually. I think you'll see that the behaviors you're describing fall quite nicely into various slots of what's called the Big Model, of which Creative Agenda is an important, but certainly not the only part.

That's also why there's no point in identifying all those things in the MMORPG article that aren't Creative Agenda. Of course they aren't; they're other things, also part of play, and it's no big deal.

Best, Ron



Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 15, 2008, 05:15:27 PM
Hi Dan, just when I wanted to go to bed :)

I wrote a pretty long response but deleted it again, hereīs the short version: You should SERIOUSLY read the Forge article on gamism.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/21/
It directly, perfectly explains your examples in GNS terms.

Also, youīre talking a lot about some ominous thing called SIS here, letīs have a look ( http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/27/ , the forge glossary)...
Quote
Shared Imagined Space (SIS, Shared Imagination)
The fictional content of play as it is established among participants through role-playing interactions. See also Transcript (which is a summary of the SIS after play) and Exploration (a near or total synonym).
SIS means people create fiction solemly through interaction. This is different from the reception of already-produced creative content. Movie-going isnīt SIS, MMORPG doesnīt need SIS; you are able to play it all alone, no interaction. It is a different kind of sharing Imagination than what we do by roleplaying. I undestand how you could come to this understanding of the term, but Iīd say we use forge terminology here and in forge terminology, SIS is where we do shared imagination in a (more-or-less) symetrical communication context. Slaying WoW ogres is acting (not interacting) in context of (not thereby creating) already produced creative content.
In forge terms, Not. SIS.

Quote
Asking where's the place for Narrativism in an MMORPG is, again, effectively trying to reduce HCDS into GNS terms, but trying to cram one terminology into the other doesn't help much.
No. I wasnīt talking about HCDS, I was talking about MMORPGS and if there is narrativist play happening there. Seems story happens, but Iīm not sure if the people actually want to make up stories or if they just try winning and story emerges naturally. I fear my initial intuition was wrong and while griefers make for great stories, they are actually just pricks. Iīd be greatly interested in finding actual narrativist play happening in MMORPGs.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 15, 2008, 05:21:44 PM
This nightmarish thread provides some previous discussion on this topic, as it's been revisited many times over the years: [D&D 3.5] Gamist Non-Affirmation (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25113.0). What I'm talking about is on page 5, in Bjorn's comment and my detailed response; it speaks directly to the larger topic of this thread.

Also, a frequent poster here, Christopher Kubasik, has spent a long time examining Narrativism in MMORPGs from inside that industry - whether it's there, what it is if it's there, who's interesting in developing it there, and so on. He might weigh into this thread sooner or later.

Finally, I do not want to dogpile you, Dan. I think it's a good topic and an important point. I'm open to back-and-forth; my posts are not a slapdown.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 15, 2008, 05:36:10 PM
CURSE YOU RON EDWARDS! ALWAYS ONE STEP AHEAD OF ME!

I just remembered where SIS happens in MMORPGs. People having sex with each other. There is no way to make two models have sex with each other in WoW as far as I know, but people still do it; they bump their characters into each other and type moans into the chat window. Doesnīt look like humping at all. Itīs only sex because both agree it is.

…

Yes, people actually do that. Iīve seen screenshots. Afterwards, I didnīt speak to my WoW - playing friends for like a week.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Callan S. on November 15, 2008, 10:47:30 PM
I think in terms of gamism, the whole SIS thing is just a distraction. Doesn't need an SIS, don't need to talk about it. And I think the same goes for naratavism. SIS is just a technique. A sexy technique! But just a technique.

Or not. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm suggesting the whole SIS talk is a distraction.

Unless were talking simulationism...I'm not so certain there.

Though really HCDS strikes me as one step short - it describes deeds, and not the desire behind that deed. It's like saying someone who drinks a glass of water is a water drinker. Someone who kills your character is a killer? No, it was just a deed. It doesn't really say what spawned that deed.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 16, 2008, 02:21:44 AM
Wow,

oooookay .. meh, I'm wrong then. Ron was correct in thinking I'd only read "System Does Matter" and not the other introductory articles. (I've been wandering haphazardly through the site.) Think I'll go lurk for a while and read it all at my leisure.

Callan .. speaking of reading articles, "Killer" is just a convenient name. In fact the category refers to any type of action where you're pushing yourself upon other real-life people, or acting upon them as opposed to interacting. This may be as tame as being an in-game vendor, or simply being a jerk by giving people unwanted attention. However, given how oriented these games are towards combat, the term "Killer" seems to describe the largest number of people who favour this kind of behaviour.

Dan


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 16, 2008, 02:35:14 AM
I don't suppose any one could post an actual list of links to the intros??

I found the links once, but at the time I was looking for "System Does Matter". Yes, I could find them with more wandering or (if I decided to embrace insanity) the search function, but if someone's already got them bookmarked, you'd be doing me a favour.

Dan/Shallow Thoughts


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 16, 2008, 03:07:24 AM
My post got eaten by the server :|

Dan, forge articles can be found by looking at the top-right corner of this mere site. Or by reading my posts, where I linked them.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/21/ gamism
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/27/ glossary

I hereby reiterate how you should read the gamism article, too. An important disctintion Ron made there is how "killer" behavior may as well be good clean fun (lets play gladiators! Are we killers now?  If so, if being a killer is wrong I donīt wanna be right.) and exactly where and why it isnīt. Some killers are gamists, some not.
Also, Iīm sorry for introducing the SIS term without just linking you to the forge glossary in the first place, because your error wasnīt incoherence, but just unfamilarity with the forge terminology.

Callan, I think youīre wrong. SIS is what makes games RPGs in the Big Model sense. Iīm inclined to call Yathzee or some wargames gamist, but they got no SIS. So you may play D&D without it being a RPG (in the Big Model sense) at all! If I want to roll better than you because what it makes us both imagine, itīs an RPG (in BM sense), if I just want to roll better, it isnīt.
Also, SIS isnīt a technique, it is what techniques helps us do.

My question now is this. Is there narrativist play without SIS? Is the fact that I canīt think of any narr play without SIS a technical problem or an essential fact of SIS?


Title: narr w/o sis
Post by: soundmasterj on November 16, 2008, 03:19:53 AM
I imagine how we completely control the avatars in an MMORPG. We set them up on a conflict. We have them adress premise. It only works if we sharedly imagine them to have some kind of internal reality or itīs just bytes.
I imagine how we control different actors by microphones in their ears. We set up a drama situation, does Julius (played by an actor controlled by me) chose duty over friendship? But we have to sharedly imagine Julius feeling some kind of internal struggle (and we both now that the actor playing julius doesnīt).
Say we control animals by brain implants and raido. Our premise is: does mass beat might? Your antswarm eats my rat. I donīt even know if thatīs a premise, but it is only a story if we imagine that we didnīt actually set up that situation, making it represent something, but that it WAS the situation. So we need SIS.
Say our game is we introduce memes into a society. Our premise is, mean beats nice. My mean meme beats your nice one. But now it isnīt narr play, it is reality. We donīt need no SIS, but it isnīt "narr" neither, because we are making reality behave like a story, we donīt play story.

It seems to me that narrativism needs SIS because we need it to be like reality, but not reality.

(We roll dice, to have gamism we only need to value something, not imagine something. Simulationism... we take mind-altering drugs or something..? Now we donīt have an SIS, neither. Or we play MMORPGs in ways Iīd call sim or gam, we donīt need SIS. We may have SIS, but we donīt need it.)


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 16, 2008, 03:38:05 AM
Oooh, didn't see that little "Articles" link in the top right. Whoopsie.

Don't ALL pieces of fiction have to be somewhat like reality? Otherwise, you're talking realms that are outside our ability to imagine. Pure mathematics deals with spaces of topologies we can't even begin to picture in our heads.

Dan


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 16, 2008, 03:52:08 AM
I definitely am not talking about what fiction is in the actual play forum of the forge. Narr play isnīt fiction, it might produce fiction, but itīs play. what Iīm asking is if there is Narr play without SIS. I canīt even begin to picture it in my head right now.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Moreno R. on November 16, 2008, 05:21:03 AM
My question now is this. Is there narrativist play without SIS? Is the fact that I canīt think of any narr play without SIS a technical problem or an essential fact of SIS?

I can tell you my experience in playing "live" games, without a common SIS (it's a situation rather similar to a MMORPG from this point of view: you can play without a CA because you can simply avoid people who disrupt your play. In tabletop games you would have to find another group to do so).

In these games, I have seen that the only way to get to play "story now" START by getting a SIS together (all the people have to be in the same place and everybody have to see and listen to anything others do). Then there are other techniques, but the first step is always getting a SIS together.

I think you can have "role-playing" without a SIS (like in most live games), but you can't have "story now" without one, Without one, everybody play pretty much for himself, there is no "story".


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 16, 2008, 05:54:56 AM
Of course, the shared assumption here is that play where exploration without SIS is the highest priority is still sim, just not roleplaying-in-Big Model-terms sim and that stepping on up in context of obstacles not in the SIS is still gam, just not Big Model RPG gam. Otherwise, none of the CAs works without SIS; and thatīs what Big Model states, exploration through SIS as highest priority makes for sim, overcoming challenge in SIS through stepping on up makes for gam. So Big Model says MMORPGs are mostly neither RPGs in Big Model terms nor gam/sim.
 
However, to me, MMORPG as challenge and as primarily exploration feels a lot similar similar to sim and gam P&P RPGS. When I play a computer game with my friends, I talk just like I talk and get excited just like I get excited when I play shadowrun. Gamism, I think, depends on shared value which in Big Model RPGs takes on the form of SIS; Sim depends on something to explore which in a Big Model RPG is in SIS, but might also be experienced in other forms of play all alone.

So my next question is, is there anything that SIS-less games will never be able to do on principle that is inherently supporting gamism? Because when I play shadowrun, i use the SIS as a medium of tactical positioning thatīs a lot more flexible than a hex map or a MMORPG.  But MMORPGs will get more flexible. Which gamism-supporting rules are easily articulated in context of an SIS, but not in context of a computer game?


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Caldis on November 16, 2008, 07:29:00 AM

I have some experience with MMO's but not a lot, for purposes of this post I'll be talking mostly about my experience playing WOW.  Take that as a frame of reference and consider that other games have a notably different play experience.

I think you can use the big model to look at certain aspects of MMO's but the thing you have to remember is that it is dealing with group goals so considering that itch in your head that's getting satisfied by play isnt enough.  What you need to see is how a bunch of people act together overtime.

So wanting to travel and see new scenery isnt a sign of sim in one person but if you have a group that are committed to doing it it can be.  In most mmo's I've played that's not enough to keep anyones interest for long usually there are many more things like in WOW you dont just travel to a new ares for the scenery, you travel to find new quests that keep you interacting with the environment.  The environment usually isnt very challenging and even if you do rush into something a little to tough for you the penalties for dieing are small.   In a lot of areas it's much more efficient to travel with a group so if you bring a group of people together and they are all agreed on exploring this area and doing this bunch of quests you have something approaching functional sim.  There is a built in reward cycle of levelling up, qualifying for new quests and eventually outgrowing an area and being directed to a new one with a whole new set of quests and an environment to explore.

Played differently WoW supports gamism as well.  It's mostly in raiding or the battlegrounds.  Raids are much more challenging and the rewards and cost of failure can be quite a bit higher.  If you are far enough into a raid and you end up with the group getting wiped it often causes people to bail out on the attempt and makes the group miss out on the rare items that you can acquire only in the raid.  The group make up in this style play is usually much more exlusive as well.  Players are chosen based on their ability to play smart and not accidently pull extra enemies to the group.



Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Vulpinoid on November 16, 2008, 02:41:21 PM
I think you can have "role-playing" without a SIS (like in most live games), but you can't have "story now" without one, Without one, everybody play pretty much for himself, there is no "story".

Sorry, but I think this requires more explanation...and even though I admit that this explanation is getting away from the topic of this thread, It's got me intrigued.

I would have considered "Live Roleplaying" without and SIS to be Real Life...it's where we go through the motions of social interaction with the people around us, we commit violence at the risk of repercussions, we strive to advance ourselves, or sacrifice degrees of self-advancement to further the community around us.

Once you step into a "Live Gaming Space", whether that is an MMORPG or physically dressing up in costume, you leave certain real world conventions behind. Suddenly you have access to skills, powers or  setting that is different from your mundane life and thus a realm of shared imagination is born. I would have though that it is the agreement of certain imagination parameters that forms the basis of the SIS. The SIS is born as soon as two or more people agree on an imagination parameter.

Two people get onto a server or LAN and play a game of WoW, and they are playing a role in a world that they've agreed apon. If one player is using a bunch of mods to re-invent their WoW experience into a Middle Earth Paradigm, then suddenly they don't share the same imagination space and the communications become irrelevant. If they both use these mods, then the SIS is re-established.

Two people walk into a room in period costume and start talking to one another, it's just regular talking. If they start putting on accents or referring to historical events as though personally taking part in them, then roleplaying is born and an SIS develops.

From this perspective (and please argue with me if you think it's a skewed view), all roleplaying has an SIS at it's core...

Gamist play seeks to dominate that space (or at least dominate and overpower the other members sharing it).
Simulationist play seeks to explore that space (to identify its boundaries and its differences with the "real world").
Narrativist play seeks to develop stories within the space (to evolve it and to move it in new directions).

Without an SIS, gamist play is just a competition of dice rolls/card draws/one-upmanship, I don't think it's roleplaying at all, because there are no roles being played. Once a role is played and someone else accepts that the person is playing a role, there is an SIS.

Whether the second party accepts to take part in the SIS is another matter entirely.

Just my thoughts.

V


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 16, 2008, 03:32:56 PM
Why oh why did I bring up the dreaded terminology in the first place!

Vulpinoid, pixels on a computer screen arenīt what SIS means. SIS means that something is only "there" if and because we agree it is. Us playing WoW, you watching over my shoulder while I level my orc dude, me thinking thereīs an orc running around in Azeroth, you thinking thereīs just some pixels on a computer screen doesnīt change the fact that we see an orc running around. (Of course, as Iīve shown there is some SIS in MMORPGs). Us playing D&D, me saying itīs an orc Iīm rolling dice against, you saying youīre not playing anymore, you want to play Yathzee now, that changes a lot about that orc. We are no longer sharedly imagining it. Thatīs why the second orc is a SIS orc, the first one isnīt.
If we played WoW together and you were using a mod that made all of your pixels different, that might not influence SIS in the slighest. Say we imagine my guy and your guy hating each other. Thaīs SIS (because obviously, our guys donīt hate anybody, theyīre just pixels, and you and me, we like each other, otherwise we wouldnīt be playing together). If you see my guy as a Tolkien orc while I see him as a WoW orc, it doesnīt need to influence what we agree about him at all (it could, though).

Quote
From this perspective (and please argue with me if you think it's a skewed view), all roleplaying has an SIS at it's core...
We already did in this thread. Big Model says itīs roleplaying if there is SIS. However, there are thing most people would call "roleplaying activity" where no SIS is required; the Big Model says itīs not roleplaying in the Big Model sense, but we say it might be roleplaying in the sense that itīs for example a computer game where some rules are somewhat like D&D.
If we LARP and I donīt care what you think, I just want to hit you on the head with my fake sword and you want to poke me in the groin with your fake spear, there is no SIS. Still, Iīd call it roleplaying; not Big Model roleplaying though. There is nothing to argue about.

Quote
Whether the second party accepts to take part in the SIS is another matter entirely.
What? How would we agree without you taking part in the agreement? You mean, the second party doesnīt have to take on a role on itīs own? If so, I think Iīd agree. It means that when I make up a story and you agree that thatīs what happened in the story, itīs roleplaying. Sounds somewhat weird, but I think it holds.

Well, originaly I brought SIS up because Bartlesī HCDS talked about action on the world without interaction amongst players whereas in P&P RPG, there is no such thing. Therefore, I concluded, HCDS wasnīt too usefull in context of for P&P RPGs. I stand by that point; Iīd like to know where there actually IS SIS in MMORPGs (besides sex). MUDs seem to be full of it, but WoW? When I played WoW (all 5 minutes of it), I didnīt sharedly imagine anything.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 16, 2008, 07:57:48 PM
Hiya,

I ran a Forge search on "MMORPG" specifying the GNS, RPG Theory, and Actual Play forums. It revealed a lot more than I was expecting; we've been kicking this issue around since nearly day one.

I was going to winnow through and find all the strongest discussions, especially those which provided link summaries to what had gone before, but this time ... well, I didn't. I invite anyone interested to do that for us.

The Forge search function is actually quite powerful if you specify the right things, especially a key poster's handle when applicable (not the case this time). It's old-school logic, not Google logic, but you can get good at it with practice.

As moderator, I now decree that the rest of us back off and let the thread relax until Dan (Shallow Thoughts) decides what to say and where to go with the topic. The exception is whoever feels like doing the search and research I mentioned, if anyone.

Best, Ron
edited to fix a dumb initial moderation - RE


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 17, 2008, 12:43:14 AM
Apparently this wasn't how the terminology wasn't originally intended but SIS suggests, to me, a space "created" when imaginations are shared among more than one person. Granted, if I'd been aware of the glossary first, I wouldn't have made the mistake, but am I wrong in thinking the term is quite misnomer-ish as it is?

If we're going to distinguish between my original interpretation and the concept of an imaginary space created only when each of the imaginations actively have a hand in deciding upon the content of that space or direction of the "story" (ie NOT movies or books, the "Forge-meaning"), then maybe we need a new term. Unfortunately this new term would still leave MMOGs lumped in with P&P's, because, technically, MMOGs involve more than one imagination deciding upon the content of the space and direction of the "story". For example, I construct a newly imagined character and he interacts with the imagined environment. Sometimes I can even build new objects for the space, such as potions or weapons. Granted, my imaginings are channelled within the rules of the game, but they're still products of my imagination. Just look at the names some people give their characters.

Dan


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: soundmasterj on November 17, 2008, 02:05:13 AM
Dan, I donīt think we need terminology talk in here at all. What I was saying was that HCDS doesnīt really work for P&P because in P&P, every action fundamentally depends on interaction with other players.

Iīm greatly sorry for mostly changing this threadsī direction to "I call out people on their terminology use" and this is how I repent. I skimmed over half of the threads in the relevant forums containing the word MMORPG. Here are those I deem relevant:

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=14526.0
ADGBoss makes up a model somewhat close to HCDS. The (short) thread gets interesting when they point out how 1. MMORPGS donīt make for sharing credibility around; no SIS means no protagonism means no narr play! That seems to be the connection. 2. Exploring the non-SIS WoW world actually isnīt that different from exploring the Super Mario or Civilization world. Same goes for "gamist" MMORPG play in relation to other challenge-based solo video games.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=12223.0
Followup thread to the above. Long. In the beginning mostly about SIS. In the end mostly is about pointing out the misconception that the computer has to be thought of as a player (no, heīs dice and books, not GM!).

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=12262.0
A thread asking for the difference between MMORPG and solo CRPG. What I found most interesting is how it reminds us that in most PC games we take on one single role. IIRC, what makes PC games "RPGs" is that you level up, ie., the avatar improves in itself, not through accidentia, thereby channeling character. So it looks completely coincidential but actually makes a lot of sense.

http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=5332.0
Thread about how holographics would influence play. Not much it seems. Rob Muadīdib points out how SIS works by sketching, while sight does not (the bottleneck isnīt pixels, but sketchiness of input).


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Callan S. on November 17, 2008, 04:30:57 PM
Callan, I think youīre wrong. SIS is what makes games RPGs in the Big Model sense. Iīm inclined to call Yathzee or some wargames gamist, but they got no SIS. So you may play D&D without it being a RPG (in the Big Model sense) at all! If I want to roll better than you because what it makes us both imagine, itīs an RPG (in BM sense), if I just want to roll better, it isnīt.
Also, SIS isnīt a technique, it is what techniques helps us do.

My question now is this. Is there narrativist play without SIS? Is the fact that I canīt think of any narr play without SIS a technical problem or an essential fact of SIS?
Okay, lets say were talking and I ask you to imagine a character, probably one that fits a medieval era, then describe his persona for a little while before we move on. Okay, I then say there's a sail boat at sea with its crew and passengers, on fire. And your character is on the second boat, which is perfectly safe. Now, with the ability to take some liberties of invention with what gear is around, what does your character do? (which can obviously include staying on the safe boat).

I would call this a thematic question/situation, suitable to narrativist play. I myself am actually really interested in characters you might think of! But it doesn't involve an SIS - just a bit of conversation and parlour narration.

Could you enjoy answering this question when there is no SIS? Even mildly enjoy - the question is slightly generic in how I wrote it, so perhaps not terribly punchy. Could you even mildly enjoy answering or does there have to be an SIS to enjoy it?

I think most people who want narrativism would find atleast some small amount of interest/enjoyment in answering it entirely outside of an SIS. If it is indeed true that they can enjoy it without an SIS, then the SIS isn't needed to have fun answering it. Gamism definately works in exactly the same way.

So that's some evidence towards the idea that narratavism doesn't need an SIS.


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 17, 2008, 05:06:56 PM
A little bit of aaaarrgh. Callan, my call is that the terms for each Creative Agenda were chosen to express how certain, specific human social urges were realized (in the sense of "brought about") in the medium of an SIS. Using those terms in that way, as proposed, isn't intended to imply that those urges don't exist otherwise or don't find expression otherwise.

I'm beginning to think this thread is turning into GNS 101 and isn't about its original topic at all. Dan (Sh.Th.) - is there any chance you can start a new thread about some actual role-playing that you've actually done, and we can use it as a starting point for discussing what is apparently the real topic - the basic meaning of "Creative Agenda." Maybe, this is what happened, and this is what I think is going on in Big Model terms, or perhaps, this is where I don't grasp how the Big Model makes sense of it.

On the other hand, if there is in fact a specific reason why you want to understand MMORPGs as such, then I have to say that the Big Model is about SIS-based role-playing and nothing else. There may be correspondences, areas of overlap, similarities in agenda, whatever, but if the correspondence is 0% or 100%, it's of no particular interest unless you really want to talk about MMORPGs. I'm sort of getting the idea, and correct me if I'm wrong, that you don't.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on November 19, 2008, 08:20:51 AM
My opinion is that what people look for from MMORPGs and what they look for from regular P&P RPGs is identical, except that one can also get the basic one-player-game experience from MMORPGs that is harder to obtain from P&Ps. If correct, then the study of MMORPGs and P&Ps are studies of the same subject, simply expressed in different mediums. My original intent in starting the thread was merely to bring the HCDS theory to the attention of people here. On that note ... well .. mission accomplished, so I was prepared to let the thread travel where it may. If most people here believe that the two forms of entertainment don't have enough to do with each other such that analyzing P&P's from an MMO standpoint is futile, then I don't really have much else to say.

I don't think I'll be starting a new thread in Actual Play regarding understanding the Big Model, because it seems to me that the model is pretty straight-forward, if hideously tricky to encapsulate in a P&P game.

Jona, thanks for the links. Interesting discussions, especially that one on holography X-) A set of 3D virtual fighting men/creatures would indeed be cool.



Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 19, 2008, 08:47:26 AM
Hey Dan, however the discussion turned out this case isn't the last word. A lot of times a given discussion turns out to be more important much later, for someone else's purposes. So whatever seemed to have been shouted loudest in this case is not necessarily the conclusion. It would be a mistake to say that this thread expressed "what people believe here." That's merely how the dialogue turned out in this case.

We should close the thread here, folks, as per Dan's statement that its purpose is served. No more posting, please.

Best, Ron


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: DWeird on December 01, 2008, 05:07:32 AM
What? No! No ending!

Quote
A lot of times a given discussion turns out to be more important much later, for someone else's purposes.

That's me, most definitelly. I'll start another thread if told to (especially because it doesn't feel in tune with some of the discussion, though it does have heaps to do with the initial post), but I'd like to stay here if only because a thread already started needs less juice to start up.

Anyhoo... I eat my apples through a paper bag. Freeform forum play and whatnot else. It can be interesting and it can suck, but that's not an issue I want to explore - so if anyone has an opinion about it, please keep it to yourself unless you think it'd be somehow useful.

Now - time and again, I've attempted to create a huge (people-wise - 20+ or so - to a regular P&P game) game where people would create a whole world and play nations and/or people of power in it. Well... It has failed each and every time. While people liked the idea and would write up whole tracts on regions, nations, races and whatever, the game would always amount to nil because I never managed to get a means of interaction beyond telling the players "Do it!" in the game, meaning all that stuff would just sit there. Meaning that wouldn't really be a game.

[Right now, I'm usually thinking "Maybe I should just play Universalis with them?" - but I'm saying this so you'd know I'm aware of the possibility and would discuss my actual proposed issue instead.]

Now, a number of issues contributed to its continued failing (some of which are peculiar to the medium - pacing, "RPer activity" and such - of which I feel I have a better grasp of than the advice I'd receive here, so lets ignore those for a bit), but the main one is likely that with that number of people, their expectations of the game almost always differ, and it's impossible to design a game that would satisfy everyone. I've tried, and instead I've pissed everyone off to some degree. "I want battles! Strategy! - alrighty, let me try and design a large-scale combat system..." "I want my people to be all smart and techy-like, with clockwork submarines! - ...okay, uh, that tech can mess with the combat a bit, so I'll just tweak the rules to allow resource management?" "Dude, I just want to play the mysterious folk in the hidden city dome! Why do I have to read through all this crap? - well, err... *shoots himself*". To be fair, I wasn't too good at designing any of the features - went for some sort of turn-based RTS type of thing. *shudder*

Now, there were some moments - 6-7 nations, played by different players, were forming an alliance of sorts. It seemed rather boring - I thought people were just doing "blocing" to reproduce a classic high fantasy feel, with "Empire of the East", "The Land of Shadows", "Ho, We Are Awesome Mages!" and so on. But then I found out that the two major planners of the alliance were actually planning to screw everyone over most majorly, a la Athens, which felt just so awesome.

Anyway. All that is just background so you'd know where I'm coming from. What really clicked for me in this thread was Dan's distinction between individual preferences and the form of group engagement. You can't say that a player is "narrativist" or "gamist" or "simulationist" because that's something that describes group play, not people.

Which, for me, means two things:

1) that some sort of a typology of players (without associating any stigma with any type, yadda yadda general PC-ness) may be useful;
and 2), ever more importantly, that these different types of players can mesh into different modes of group play.

Players are not made identical, and since actual play is not simply some sort of larger player, maybe there's a functional social dynamic that can be based on certain types of differences instead of certain types of similarities?

Like... the guy who likes to "make stuff" describes a new gliding scout, the strategy guy incorporates it into his armies, and guy with who enjoys playing up secrecy goes around trying to sabotage it before one of 'em gets too close.

Please note: I'm not trying to create a game for everyone, not anymore at least. Still, I think (hope) that it's possible to create a game (or several games with plentiful points of intersection - that's still a "game" in my book) where different types of players enjoy functional gameplay.

I'm fairly sure that the belief that the players, playing the same game, are always doing the same thing, is wrong, and in some cases, wrong in unproductive ways. It's these that interest me. I also think that there may be differences between players-as-players that aren't based on authority (GM/non-GM) or preferences (explore/advance/kill/whatever), but I'm not sure what these are.

Is it possible for players to play the same game, but be doing different things... and have fun doing it?

Ever felt like you and the other players were playing different games... and liked it?

Now, I know very little about tabletop RPGs, and I'm not sure if I got my point across well, or even that I should be posting here at all. Please don't treat all this as some sort of set of beliefs I have - I just have an idea that I think it's worth exploring and would like some help doing that exploration.

Also... If any part of my post seems a bit toothy - that's, uh, just the way I grin. Don't mind it!


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 01, 2008, 08:08:52 AM
Toothy is OK here. I've found through painful experience that it works best if you always demonstrate you understand what the other guy is saying, or ask outright if you don't.

Anyway, you've made a good case for continuing the thread, although you should have asked me directly through a private message. Just this once (and don't make me regret it, please), I won't pitch a fit about it. I figure we'll keep the discussion going here and maybe split it later.

Best, Ron



Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Daniel B on December 01, 2008, 06:58:32 PM
Which, for me, means two things:

1) that some sort of a typology of players (without associating any stigma with any type, yadda yadda general PC-ness) may be useful;
and 2), ever more importantly, that these different types of players can mesh into different modes of group play.

Players are not made identical, and since actual play is not simply some sort of larger player, maybe there's a functional social dynamic that can be based on certain types of differences instead of certain types of similarities?

DWeird, you hit the nail on the head of my reasons for starting the thread, although your #2 hadn't occurred to me yet (.. at least, consciously). Excellent point!

As a Dungeon Master, I have tried very hard to balance the game towards some mode that satisfied each of the players' individual tastes, with some success. For example, I have two players in particular who could be classified as gamists in the Forge sense, because their sole purpose of playing the game is to simply "win", in any context of the game (be it by winning combat, most efficient character build, or killing the enemy and taking it's treasure first). I've had these two in games with a third player, who values interaction with the game world most of all and so was *extremely* resistant to being controlled, including by the NPC authorities even though it was mostly warranted, given his occupation as a thief.

There was a lot of friction between these players because I had a lot of trouble finding the balance. However, when I did strike that balance, the game-play experience was absolutely GOLDEN. The balance was a combat-heavy universe (which I satisfied with a Dark Sun-like universe, built myself for D&Dv3.5) in which the players started the game with free mounts. I also had the latter player discover a special "toy" which granted him even more power to explore the game universe.

Maybe I'm naive, but I believe that it is possible to build RPG games that appeal to a much wider base than many current games. I think these games would draw players in a similar way that the Hollywood blockbuster movies draw audiences: incorporate diverse elements to appeal to different peoples' tastes in a subtle, coherent way. I watched "Quantum of Solace" mostly for the action while my girlfriend watched it mostly for what's-his-face-James-Bond and the romance.

I plan to start watching this thread like a hawk, now that DWeird has opened it up again. I'm currently working on a P&P RPG that tries to incorporate these ideas of balance. I'm trying to construct dials and levers into the game that the GM can use on the fly, to shift the balance of the game to a mode more appealing to the players he/she is dealing with and their moods at the moment. However, the types of modes that can exist is, as far as I'm concerned, still vague and I'm worried my designs are suffering and losing coherence as a result. (I don't quite buy the Big Model, no offense to anyone.) I've been doing research on RPG design, but I would love to see this particular topic explored a lot more deeply.

Dan Blain



Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Marshall Burns on December 02, 2008, 10:58:30 AM
Dan, and DWeird, I believe you might be interested Max Higley's breakdown of player motivations & preferences.  There's some discussion of it somewhere on Story Games, but I can't find it at the moment, and there's also a little bit at Cultures of Play over here:  http://culturesofplay.com/comments.php?DiscussionID=123&page=1#Item_0

The chart by itself is certainly worth looking at.

-Marshall


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: Marshall Burns on December 02, 2008, 10:59:42 AM
Oh, spoke to soon, here's the post from Story Games:
http://www.story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=7550


Title: Re: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??
Post by: DWeird on December 04, 2008, 02:13:47 AM
Fancy.

I'll try to keep this both kosher and yummy, Ron.

Anyhoo.

Dan: My own major interest isn't as much increasing possible participation, though that may be a good goal to aim for. My reason for this is: I'm fairly sure that if you state your goal like *that*, you'll end up trying to cram up as many games running parallel as you can. Some degree of "parallelism" is probably unavoidable when players aren't absolutelly in sync, but if *all* that a game is several games running side-by-side, you may as well be playing different games.

Like... I don't care as much for blockbusters. Try to please everyone, if you try to smoothen *every corner* so that no one would get a cut - you get a sphere. And sphere's ain't got no edge, man.

Marshall: Thanks! The threads you linked me to made me break up some of the concepts I've been using in my head and look at what pieces of those remain useful.

For one, I no longer want to talk in terms of player typology (uh, I never really did, but I didn't have the sort of language to talk about what I want before... Still don't in full, but it's still good). I want to see what aspects of a player get active in play and how they change. Like... what if the process of getting a player who's not really interested in a game to that "Oh!" moment isn't about, uh, teaching him how to 'accept the game', but rather about finding a certain aspect of a certain player which could snap into a position currently occupied by an aspect that doesn't really fit in?

[My immediate interest in the "Oh!" moment may seem, to you guys, to be an issue that, while important, is something altogether different from the design of the actual game... Now, my game is a community game, meaning that there is a flux of players going in and out. The 'in' is almost always of people who aren't really sure what they're doing, meaning that there's always some people in the game who don't know what they're doing. Trying to distinguish between "new, needs some help" and "new, likely won't ever find this game interesting in a way that's productive to the rest of us" is therefore crucial.]

Another thing Max Higley's thread made me do is make me look at certain advice given at the Forge differently... More specifically - interweaving "game as rules text", "game as set of procedures", "game as group-constructed imagination". Which means basically that several people that have the managerial "wait, is that in the rules?", strategist "how do I play [in the naughty sense] these rules?" and radical "so why don't we just make a story?" aspects active could very well be playing the same game, "being different people", and having fun at the same time.

Do you think that ever actually happens? Because that's exactly the sort of experience that I'm looking for. I mean - the problem that up to now (to my knowledge) makes people construct player typologies is basically: 'my current game is dysfunctional. I talked to my players and their attitudes are different! I'll try and make my games account for that from now on. Puppies and rainbows, whee!'

Has anybody asked their players if (and how?) their attitudes are different when the game they're playing is fun(ctional)? I think they should.