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General Forge Forums => Site Discussion => Topic started by: Sylus Thane on June 03, 2003, 03:38:56 PM



Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 03, 2003, 03:38:56 PM
Although the Forge is home to both, sometimes I wonder if GNS can cloud over questions brought up in Indie design. Based on reading some of the threads here in the site discussion I wonder if this can sometimes be part of the problem. It's true that GNS has changed the way a lot of people view game design but for a lot of the new people who come to Forge for help this is not the case. It's my view that the majority of them come to get help with their creations from others who share their passions and have experience in the field.

I wonder if perhaps why some of them do not post again is not because they have nothing to share but because they feel barraged by terms and a way of thinking they are not familiar or comfortable with?

I know this is the way I felt when I first came here and I will admit that although GNS is very intuitive, I do not wholeheartedly agree with it. I am I think one of those rare people that feel GNS is within the eye of the beholder and can be found within all games no matter what they are about.

I think that perhaps before we ask the questions of "What do people do in your Game?" or "Or is your G, N, or S?" or "Have you read these articles? if not read them then come back."

I think perhaps it would be better, in regards specifically to the Indie Design Forum, that matters of GNS should be laid aside when looking at new concepts. GNS already has it's own discussion area and I think new posters would be better served if talk of it remained there until they have the desire or comfort level to seek it out.

I may end up being burned at the stake for heresy in saying this but I think it needed done. Rons work is above and beyond, but Design has so many avenues that I think the Forge is hurt in long run of Design help when GNS is overly involved. An example of this would be the most recent Iron Game Chef using GNS modes as subject matter. I don't I could agree on the definition of Simulation or Narration to have felt I could have competently competed. And I think perhaps this bleeds over into other areas.

The short of it:

I feel GNS can cloud our views when helping new posters with their designs in that we may overwhelm them with jargon or theoretical view points that they may not agree with or be comfortable with.

Questions for debate:
Do any of you feel the same way at times?

Can we help improve the Indie design forum and make it more new poster friendly by not overwhelming them with GNS?

Are there other thing we can do to make Indie Design more new poster friendly?


Remember we were all new once. Think about how you may have felt when bombarded with things you did not agree with or were comfortable with on a regular basis. And above all "Cherish the Goob".

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Valamir on June 03, 2003, 05:40:09 PM
Hmmm...good question.

My view on the matter would be these.

Can GNS be overwhelming, yes.

BUT...is that really a negative.  I don't think so.  Here's why.

1) GNS will challenge your paradigm.  Whether or not you wind up believing its tenets or deciding its a crock, you WILL have your assumptions about what an RPG is and what is important to an RPG game challenged.  If there is one thing that the Fantasy Heartbreaker articles demonstrate its that games designed on "standard" assumptions often wind up being far less than they could have been.  Challenging those assumptions and forcing a new designer to really think critically about WHY they did certain things or included certain things or didn't include certain things, is a good thing.

2) A little bit of grilling I think is also a good thing.  Questions like "That's all good, but what do you actually DO" or "Why would I want to play this game instead of that game" may seem harsh and maybe even a little rude...but they are the most important questions to ask.  If a designer can't answer the first question than they don't really have a coherent game...they may have a setting, they may have a collection of clever mechanics, but until they understand themselves what it is you DO...that's all they have.  As to the second question...well the Forge's mission is about publishing.  Implied in the idea of publishing is creating a game that others will want to play...or at least look at.  If a designer can't answer the question of what makes his game unique and different and compelling...than what really is the point of even publishing it?  If the designer can't get excited about what makes his game special, how can anyone else.

3) Indie publishing takes a commitment: of time, money, and effort.  I've got nothing against home brews, I've got nothing against test bed games designed "just to see if it will work", but ultimately the Forge is about completing a project, putting it in a deliverable format, and publishing.  That takes commitment.  Sure a designer being peppered with questions they didn't expect and maybe don't even understand when they were thinking they wanted opinions on a particular die mechanic may seem like going overboard.  But the other side of that coin is that game design does involve a little trial by fire.  Wading through those questions, perservering on the theory, defending without being defensive...those are all marks of a designer who has the drive and committment and believe in their game and their abilities.  

4) The above 3, I offer as pretty good reasons that are probably pretty broadly accepted.  This one is purely my own, and if it pisses people off, direct your ire at me not the Forge in general.  For me the trial by fire serves as a filter.  Quite literally, a designer who can't be bothered to answer the questions or at least endeavor to understand the questions is going to get a lot less interest from me in their project.  Bottom line, if they can't be bothered to answer our questions, why should I be bothered to answer theres.  I know that may sound a little elitist...but there you go.  There are only so many hours I can dedicate to the Forge.  There are alot of potentially great games being designed by people I know (at least in the online sense) and already appreciate their work...so many in fact, that I don't have time to dig deeply into all of them.  Frankly, for a new designer to get my attention they're going to have to show me something compelling enough to drag me away from the games I'm already following, and part of that is in the responses to the "3rd degree".


Great topic I think.  Those are my thoughts anyway.  Does that help assuage your concerns...or confirm your worst fears...


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Bankuei on June 03, 2003, 07:19:29 PM
Hi Sylus,

An excellent question.  Here's my view and approach on it, and I think it works well.  When I see an game design that I feel like contributing to, I don't bring up issues of GNS terminology unless the designer is bringing them up.  You don't need to know GNS to make a good game, one only need look at the Pool, Riddle of Steel, or Dread as some basic examples.  

But I do, and absolutely ask, "What do folks do in your game?" if its not clear.  For example, many game designs involve some form of "kewl setting" and maybe a nifty mechanic without any sort of explaination of what the game is about.  I don't consider this to be a GNS heavy, terminology laden, or even theory dense question.  

In other words, I keep my design discussion to the level of the designer, and don't try to "convert" them to any Forge theory or concept.

But...I do see a lot of folks read GNS, get all excited, and then want to design based on GNS.  That's sort of like saying, "I want to make a song that only uses these 4 notes, just to see if I can do it!"  While it might fly, its probably better to make a song based on what moves you.  Likewise, if I design a game for me to play GNS is not in my head.  I come to a rather simple question of "What do I want this to do, and do these rules make it happen?"

For a simple example, my entry into Iron Chef Sim was based off the desire to design a game rolling multiple D20's that can explode.  Not real lofty GNS desires there, huh?  And guess what...You can do that with that game.  So likewise, the question of "What do you do in the game?" is a fundamental question for me, because that determines if I want to play that game or not.  

What I find is that a lot of the folks newer to GNS, get all excited about it, and want to share it.  In doing so, they scare away a lot of folks.  Its sort of like learning Chaos Theory, and trying to share it with middle school kids.  You'll probably scare them away from math and science altogether.

Just my humble opinion,

Chris


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 03, 2003, 08:15:30 PM
Valamir wrote:
Quote
1) GNS will challenge your paradigm. Whether or not you wind up believing its tenets or deciding its a crock, you WILL have your assumptions about what an RPG is and what is important to an RPG game challenged. If there is one thing that the Fantasy Heartbreaker articles demonstrate its that games designed on "standard" assumptions often wind up being far less than they could have been. Challenging those assumptions and forcing a new designer to really think critically about WHY they did certain things or included certain things or didn't include certain things, is a good thing.


This is true, but I would also say that would be designers already challenge the "Standard Assumptions" when they decide to design out of a sense of dissatisfaction. hence the ever present "Like this but better".

Quote
2) A little bit of grilling I think is also a good thing. Questions like "That's all good, but what do you actually DO" or "Why would I want to play this game instead of that game" may seem harsh and maybe even a little rude...but they are the most important questions to ask. If a designer can't answer the first question than they don't really have a coherent game...they may have a setting, they may have a collection of clever mechanics, but until they understand themselves what it is you DO...that's all they have. As to the second question...well the Forge's mission is about publishing. Implied in the idea of publishing is creating a game that others will want to play...or at least look at. If a designer can't answer the question of what makes his game unique and different and compelling...than what really is the point of even publishing it? If the designer can't get excited about what makes his game special, how can anyone else.


I will agree that a degree of grilling is a good thing, but I would counter that perhaps the heat we turn up with our initial questions may be a little too hot to start out with. While agreed that they should have a certain degree of coherency to their games, I feel a softer approach in how we coax out what they have may yield more results compared to a barrage that may daunt them. Plus we must always remember the the problems of the internet in delivering feel to a post.

Quote
3) Indie publishing takes a commitment: of time, money, and effort. I've got nothing against home brews, I've got nothing against test bed games designed "just to see if it will work", but ultimately the Forge is about completing a project, putting it in a deliverable format, and publishing. That takes commitment. Sure a designer being peppered with questions they didn't expect and maybe don't even understand when they were thinking they wanted opinions on a particular die mechanic may seem like going overboard. But the other side of that coin is that game design does involve a little trial by fire. Wading through those questions, perservering on the theory, defending without being defensive...those are all marks of a designer who has the drive and committment and believe in their game and their abilities.


Which is why I think a gradual increase to the intensity of questions would be better to help new posters especially as they slowly become aware of other aspects of the Forge. Also I feel this may help improve the Forges outer image in that we do not immediately barrage a person with questions applying to a theory not all hold dear. Those put off, or given cause to reconsider what they are doing based on simple "Standard Questions" would be more hard pressed to say we didn't help because we are a bunch of elitist theory snobs.

Quote
4) The above 3, I offer as pretty good reasons that are probably pretty broadly accepted. This one is purely my own, and if it pisses people off, direct your ire at me not the Forge in general. For me the trial by fire serves as a filter. Quite literally, a designer who can't be bothered to answer the questions or at least endeavor to understand the questions is going to get a lot less interest from me in their project. Bottom line, if they can't be bothered to answer our questions, why should I be bothered to answer theres. I know that may sound a little elitist...but there you go. There are only so many hours I can dedicate to the Forge. There are alot of potentially great games being designed by people I know (at least in the online sense) and already appreciate their work...so many in fact, that I don't have time to dig deeply into all of them. Frankly, for a new designer to get my attention they're going to have to show me something compelling enough to drag me away from the games I'm already following, and part of that is in the responses to the "3rd degree".


Believe or not I agree with you, but with a gradual aprroach we can also get a sense of those who pass the iniatial "Trial by Match" may be the ones who people should focus some of their free time to see if they can muster through the "Trial by Fire".

Quote
Great topic I think. Those are my thoughts anyway. Does that help assuage your concerns...or confirm your worst fears...


Actually all a discussion such as this can do is help, Especially if it brings to light any way in which we can all make the Forge better at accomplishing it's stated goals. And don't worry, I hide my fears in a really strong box with a big lock.

Bankuei wrote:
Quote
An excellent question. Here's my view and approach on it, and I think it works well. When I see an game design that I feel like contributing to, I don't bring up issues of GNS terminology unless the designer is bringing them up. You don't need to know GNS to make a good game, one only need look at the Pool, Riddle of Steel, or Dread as some basic examples.

But I do, and absolutely ask, "What do folks do in your game?" if its not clear. For example, many game designs involve some form of "kewl setting" and maybe a nifty mechanic without any sort of explaination of what the game is about. I don't consider this to be a GNS heavy, terminology laden, or even theory dense question.

In other words, I keep my design discussion to the level of the designer, and don't try to "convert" them to any Forge theory or concept.


Which this overall the best means of going about it, but sometimes I do see some people who are a little more intense about their questioning as Valamir pointed out. For onstance occassionally I will see a new poster and the first replies they get consist of "What do you do in your game? (with no other questions or comments) or more usually a hearty welcome then followed by you should read this, this, and thi. Now although i do agree that new posters who do put in remarks regarding GNS should have it followed up on I think we can better serve those who don't by taking things gradually. It is a sad fact but in most "Sink or Swim" instances people Sink from pressure.

Here is in interesting thought. Being that we have stickies in regards to first time posting, would it be all that unthinkable for us to have a sticky or article based on firts time responses to help coaxing the greatness that Lurks out beyond the forum? There are occasionally posts by new people who lurk but feel rather overwhelmed or daunted by the questions asked or the information available. The true task of ours should be to lessen that and to help. Perhaps instead of giving replies such as "That seems more simulationist than the narrativism your talking about" when people describe things we should instead ask why they feel it is that way and then based on their response gradually introduce them to what those terms means to those of us who do follow GNS?

I guess all in all this goes beyond just GNS terms and definitions but also getting us out of our automatic responses and more into a mode of gentle dissection to see what the poster has to offer.

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Shreyas Sampat on June 03, 2003, 08:41:24 PM
Sylus, it seems like you're really raising an etiquette question here, rather than one regarding GNS: "What is the appropriate way to respond to a newcomer to the Forge?  How much do we expect of all newcomers?"  GNS has nothing to do with it.

That said,

I see a lot of friendliness in Indie Design, a lot more than what you seem to be detecting.  Following the lead of faster posters, I often hold back my most burning questions (usually, "what makes your game special?  why did you choose this mechanic, which implies X Y Z assumptions?  Do you in fact assume X Y Z?) until the look of 'testing the waters' has left the poster's diction.
Yes, this leads to me sometimes not involving myself at all.  But I think the current approach isn't the firebreathing dragon lady you make it out to be; more of a sleeping dog.  Yes, it does get growly sometimes, but not so often that it's detrimental to anyone's health.


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 03, 2003, 10:03:37 PM
Quote from: Shreyas Sampat
Sylus, it seems like you're really raising an etiquette question here, rather than one regarding GNS: "What is the appropriate way to respond to a newcomer to the Forge?  How much do we expect of all newcomers?"  GNS has nothing to do with it.

That said,

I see a lot of friendliness in Indie Design, a lot more than what you seem to be detecting.  Following the lead of faster posters, I often hold back my most burning questions (usually, "what makes your game special?  why did you choose this mechanic, which implies X Y Z assumptions?  Do you in fact assume X Y Z?) until the look of 'testing the waters' has left the poster's diction.
Yes, this leads to me sometimes not involving myself at all.  But I think the current approach isn't the firebreathing dragon lady you make it out to be; more of a sleeping dog.  Yes, it does get growly sometimes, but not so often that it's detrimental to anyone's health.


Not to dispute your opinion Shreyas, but in agreeing that it is in part an etiquette thing if you look at replies to newcomers in which Forge members tend to fall back on GNS terminology to get their point across. Unfortunately, not everyone is well versed in it, comfortable in it, believe in it what have you to a point in which there are times that I believe that it makes some of us forget the pureness of design.

For example, int the recent design thread called HAck by Haislin when presenting what he wished to design and in describing his efforts to date, he used the term narrativist. An immediate reply by Mike Holmes put it as being high Simulation. Now in no way to disparage Mikes assessment of the game and declaring it simulationist, especially considering his prolonged use of GNS, would it have not been better to have first found out why Haislin came to the conclusion he did? And if he did use GNS, how did his understanding influence his conclusion before any of us immediately pass our own judgement. Later posters followed up with suggestive comparisons based on what they had seen or worked on which may have been more immediately appropriate.

Another example would be Iron Game Chef Simulation, where allthough the contestants did for as far as we know intend to make simulationist games, even Jared who doesn't believe it exists, only to later to have it be decided that perhaps they were not simulationist at all but something else. Now I do not want this to seem like I'm picking on Mike alone, but it does show where ones understanding of something can and will differ from another in viewpoint.

It is my belief that sometimes when trying to get at the heart of what a new poster is trying to express with their idea that we can at times get lost in terminology. I think you would be hard pressed to find more than a handful of design threads that do not refer to GNS in any way. It is that in which I found my questions upon because I believe that GNS does not inherently belong in the understanding of a new game design at the beginning unless brought up specifically by the post initiator. even then I feel it should be tread upon slowly as to learn how the person may percieve it.

It is my contention that GNS should completely stay with its own forum unless specifically drawn out by the post of someone new, and then only used sparingly until it can be determined that the person has established a suitable "Tolerance :)" as to not be overwhelmed by it before getting their ideas across.

Sylus
Who believes GNS resides in all games no matter what while simultaneously having none at all.


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 03, 2003, 10:24:22 PM
I would like to correct myself. It's late and the threads are beginning to blur together. Earlier I stated Mike Holmes made a reply in the Hack thread, in which all actuality it was Talysman replying to the AERs:the fallen world thread. Sorry for the mix up folks.

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: C. Edwards on June 03, 2003, 10:35:28 PM
Quote from: Sylus Thane
Another example would be Iron Game Chef Simulation, where allthough the contestants did for as far as we know intend to make simulationist games, even Jared who doesn't believe it exists, only to later to have it be decided that perhaps they were not simulationist at all but something else. Now I do not want this to seem like I'm picking on Mike alone, but it does show where ones understanding of something can and will differ from another in viewpoint.


Speaking for myself, I knew Tiki God was 'Gamist'. I wasn't in the competition to win so much as to just be in the competition. When I read the list of ingredients Tiki God lept fully formed into my mind so I made the game I was given, so to speak. Besides, I had to be true to the source material. :)

As far as GNS and Indie Design I'm not sure they could be seperated. GNS permeates all the general Forge forums. GNS is, like it or not, the basis for a great deal of vocabulary here. Even though the name of the forum, the Forge, suggests that things get the piss hammered out of them here I don't think that applies to newcomers. Yes, they often get asked pointed and intense questions, the answers to which often necessitate research, but I think they are treated as gently as they can be considering the disparity of terminological knowledge that's often involved.

I lurked for a couple months before posting, that allowed me to get a feel for how the Forge functions and to read and digest the articles. I would suggest that anyone else do the same. Do your homework and you'll be that much more prepared for any grilling that ensues. Sure, there's probably room for improvement, there always is, but I don't think it's a particularly pressing issue.

That's my buck-fifty.

-Chris


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2003, 06:11:43 AM
Hi there,

Great thread topic.

I very often observe this sequence in Indie Design.

New guy: Hi, this is my new game, it's about X. [tacked on] It's Narrativist [or whatever].

Forge dude: Hi, welcome to the Forge. Um, it doesn't look Narrativist to me, have you read the essays?

New guy: Narrativist means X, Y, and Z to me.

Forge dude(s): Um, that's not Narrativist, that's High Concept Sim [or whatever].

Me: Hey guys, let's bag the GNS talk. New guy, tell us more about your game.

Seems to me the solution is obvious - suggest bagging the GNS talk from the git-go when someone posts like this, and don't try to make any corrections about that at this time. Just focus on the game.

Best,
Ron


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 04, 2003, 06:36:16 AM
Quote
Seems to me the solution is obvious - suggest bagging the GNS talk from the git-go when someone posts like this, and don't try to make any corrections about that at this time. Just focus on the game.

Best,
Ron


As usual Ron you hit things right on and quickly. I've also noticed things tend to flow the same way as you put in your example. Also in Bagging GNS until it's time I think that may be a wise idea as it would help get the focus back more on "Game" and less in arguing what the terminology means to who.

The real trick of the question now becomes how to we encourage older posters to do this?

How do we get Forgites to "Cherish the Goob" and help transform them into Designers O' Game?

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2003, 06:46:11 AM
Hi Sylus,

Actually, the solution has already occurred, thanks to you posting this thread at all. I think the goal you state is about 81% in place already. The majority of Indie Design discussions do go the way that you (and I) recommend. A little reminder like this thread goes a long way toward taking the proportion to 99%, and the 1%, we can't do anything about.

Then, of course, the cycle/population-growth effect kicks in, and I anticipate someone posting a topic like this one in Site Discussion again, say, six or eight months from now.

Best,
Ron


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 04, 2003, 06:50:13 AM
C. Edwards wrote:
Quote
As far as GNS and Indie Design I'm not sure they could be seperated. GNS permeates all the general Forge forums. GNS is, like it or not, the basis for a great deal of vocabulary here. Even though the name of the forum, the Forge, suggests that things get the piss hammered out of them here I don't think that applies to newcomers. Yes, they often get asked pointed and intense questions, the answers to which often necessitate research, but I think they are treated as gently as they can be considering the disparity of terminological knowledge that's often involved.


And you see, that is the main problem, it should most wholeheartedly apply to newcomers. In the case of the Indie Design forum it is really is overall the best thing to leave your GNS at home. The new guy might not know how to play by those rules. Terminology should never be a reason not to treat new posters more gently in an attempt to draw out the "Game" within. Perhaps in the case of Indie Design their should be more General Forging terms terms. For example, should someone say "Hey guys, let's help this guy get things "Hammered" out." It shouldn't be too hard for us to understand it to mean for us to help flesh out the design. Also I would suggest perhaps new terms that may be made are in actuality used in referencing to helping a newcomer verses dissectiong what they have. It is easy enough for us to describe what they have in simple laymans terms without resorting to GNS. And any new design poster is almost guaranteed to understand exactly what we are saying.

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 04, 2003, 06:54:48 AM
Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi Sylus,

Actually, the solution has already occurred, thanks to you posting this thread at all. I think the goal you state is about 81% in place already. The majority of Indie Design discussions do go the way that you (and I) recommend. A little reminder like this thread goes a long way toward taking the proportion to 99%, and the 1%, we can't do anything about.

Then, of course, the cycle/population-growth effect kicks in, and I anticipate someone posting a topic like this one in Site Discussion again, say, six or eight months from now.

Best,
Ron


Hey Ron,

I agree with you on that. Do you mind if the thread stays open? As I think it would help people "Hammer" out their differences in how they see new posters should recieve help or how they feel GNS effects things.

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2003, 06:54:55 AM
Hi Sylus,

The issue doesn't arise from Forge people using GNS terms on the new posters and their games. That is rare to absent in Indie Design. The issue arises from new posters trying to fit in by using terms that they don't understand very well, and then from the Forge folks getting interested in helping them understand better.

In Indie Design in particular, it's best to recognize that the GNS-terminology isn't central to the goal of that forum. The goal is to help the person with his or her game. So, since we can't do anything about people using unfamiliar terminology in a misguided attempt to fit in, the only solution is for Forge members to react differently to the phenomenon.

As I said before, this is not an overriding problem. Just a wee bit more attention to it, on more people's part, more consistently, will do the job nicely.

editing this in (we cross-posted): Who said the thread was closed? It ain't closed until either you or I say so.

Best,
Ron


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 04, 2003, 07:09:06 AM
Quote
editing this in (we cross-posted): Who said the thread was closed? It ain't closed until either you or I say so.


Sorry, I was horribly distracted by kids :) nad somehow mentally registered it wrong.

Quote
The issue doesn't arise from Forge people using GNS terms on the new posters and their games. That is rare to absent in Indie Design. The issue arises from new posters trying to fit in by using terms that they don't understand very well, and then from the Forge folks getting interested in helping them understand better.


Your right, but I would say perhaps that a good portion of us get too excited about helping with the GNS portion that we tend to forget about the Design. I think this is best exemplfied with a lot of the runaway posts in which you sometimes have to step in where people get carried away with a discussion of GNS maters based on a snippet from the original poster and then we hear nothing from its originator for several pages.

Quote
In Indie Design in particular, it's best to recognize that the GNS-terminology isn't central to the goal of that forum. The goal is to help the person with his or her game. So, since we can't do anything about people using unfamiliar terminology in a misguided attempt to fit in, the only solution is for Forge members to react differently to the phenomenon.


Perhaps an addition to one of the stickies could maybe help further this goal?

As a side line question for you Ron. Where do you feel if at all GNS could help in design? Or do you feel it is used better as a tool for dissecting a completed work to see where it would best fit in?

Sylus [/code]


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Ron Edwards on June 04, 2003, 07:40:01 AM
Hi Sylus,

I've taken your question to a thread of its own in the GNS forum, GNS and design (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/viewtopic.php?t=6734).

Best,
Ron


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Sylus Thane on June 04, 2003, 07:59:26 AM
Cool, Thanks Ron.

Quote
Even though the name of the forum, the Forge, suggests that things get the piss hammered out of them here I don't think that applies to newcomers.


Going off part of what was said here, do people think it would be impossible or unlikely to come up with a seperate set of Forge terminology Tools that are more generic in nature to help new posters within Indie Design? Or would people find it unterferes wit their understanding of GNS or what they feel the Forge is about?

I think if we could come up with more of a set of generic tools it would help us in drawing out the inner Game of new posters and help eliminate the potential of us drowning them in terminology even with the best of intentions.

My first suggestion would be, although necessarily terminology would be perhaps an icon put at the header of a thread of hammer. This in a way could be used with a simple descriptor to indicate someone needing help in "hammering" or fleshing out an idea. I don't know if it is possible forum wise but i think it could be simply labeled under something like forge help tools that can help get peoples attention. Or it could simply be used as term when trying to help a person as it is fairly common nomenclature.

Sylus


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: M. J. Young on June 04, 2003, 06:08:53 PM
Quote from: Sylus Thane
I will see a new poster and the first replies they get consist of "What do you do in your game? (with no other questions or comments) or more usually a hearty welcome then followed by you should read this, this, and thi. Now although i do agree that new posters who do put in remarks regarding GNS should have it followed up on I think we can better serve those who don't by taking things gradually.

I'll probably answer the later question in the other thread, when I get there. Meanwhile, this issue is worth comment.

I rarely post to the Indie Design forum; as I've elsewhere commented, I don't have time to digest a dozen new games a month, so I can't keep them straight. I stick to those threads which are narrow in focus and don't imply that you need a working knowledge of the game as a whole to contribute.

Yet I think that sometimes I've been guilty of asking questions of the kind (if not the particular questions) you suggest. Mea culpa? Maybe not.

Game questions require some kind of context. That doesn't necessarily have to be a complete description of the game; such complete description is not always desirable, and perhaps more to the point it's not always sufficient.

Particularly the question, "What do people do in your game?" is very important. In many of the questions that are asked, you can't address the ideas at all without knowing that--and sometimes of course you come face to face with a designer who hasn't a clue. He's never wondered. Perhaps he wants a game that isn't all hack and slash, so he's designing away from combat emphasis--but not toward anything. Sometimes this sort of aimless "away from" design strategy shows through, and it doesn't bode well for a game.

I don't ask questions for which I don't think the answers important. I don't refer people to articles unless I think the article contains an answer to one of their issues. On the other hand, I do think that if someone is looking for answers and I suggest that he read a particular article (whether Ron's or mine or anyone else) that's at least a valid response. If he doesn't want to read that, fine.

Also, I've seen threads in which someone's use of words like "narrativist" were confusing because they thought it meant one thing and everyone else took it to mean something else. To use a theological example, if we got into a discussion in which you said you believed in the devil, but not that he was a person, and I objected that he was indeed a person because he had particular attributes of personhood, we could go round and round for a long time if it never occurred to us to figure out what we each mean by "person". If I mean that the devil has will, intelligence, and character, and you mean that he doesn't have two legs, two arms, and horns on his head, then we're not disagreeing--we're talking past each other. If someone says his game is "narrativist" and we assume he's on the same page as the rest of us, the more confused the thread gets from the misunderstanding the more jarring it's going to be when someone finally says, "What do you mean by 'narrativist'?" "Oh, I mean that the storyteller narrates what's happening." Now, probably around here someone would say, "That's not what narrativist means," when it would be more precise to say, "That's not what we understand narrativist to mean", but it's the same thing.

So those questions will appear, because sometimes they're necessary to communication.

Now, if all you mean is that we shouldn't expect every visitor to get a master's degree in game theory before asking questions, sure, you're right; but anyone who asks questions should be willing to accept that the answers might already be written somewhere else, and that it might be useful to be on the same page in terms of terminology to proceed.

--M. J. Young


Title: For what it's worth
Post by: iago on June 04, 2003, 10:46:28 PM
I took a long time to come to the Forge.  I'd known about it for a while, but I skipped out on really trying to come to terms with it because it had a great big GNS mothership hovering in its skies.

Now that I'm here, I still see the shadow of the mothership, and I still don't speak the strange but beautiful language of the alien race that hails from it, but I'm a lot less xenophobic about it.

It's only recently that I've even tried to understand the terms (because the Iron Chef thing sounded cool, but with it identified with a GNS bent, I didn't feel capable of contributing).

Today, if someone says something in a GNS context, they're basically still speaking Greek.  I'll nod and smile and occasionally catch some of the cognates, but that's about it.

It is something that I feel like I've got to "tough my way through" in order to get the non-GNS benefits of the Forge, though I can't easily point to specific things that gave me the feeling.

All this said, on some level I almost want to say, "So what?" to a concern that there's too much GNS at the Forge.  In a lot of ways, GNS seems to be the bouncer around these parts.  It's certainly the big muscular lug standing by the door.  Makes a fella nervous.

And that's kinda good.  It's entirely possible that this bouncer's what keeps out the rpg.net drek factor.  People who can get past their fear -- whether they adopt GNS or not (I haven't) -- have passed the trial by fire.

I know the Forge has a certain inclusive attitude -- that's certainly what I encountered once I got past that door -- but from the outside, at least, it looks like a pretty elite club, and gives one to wondering if he can even make a bid for joining.


Title: Does GNS sometimes cloud Indie Design?
Post by: Mike Holmes on June 05, 2003, 06:19:44 AM
First, people ought not get the impression that one needs to know GNS to post here. I totally agree with Ron that people come here, see the GNS stuff, assume it's mandatory, and then try to speak it despite not really getting it.

It's not required to get it. Simply don't try to speak it until you've got a handle on it.

Look at the "problem" posts. You'll see exactly what Ron described every time. The poster comes in, assumes that they have to post their GNS goal, posts that incorrectly, and then get's corrected.

Then Ron or I or someone else comes in and say, "well forget about that for now."

So, I think the problem is self perpetuating. That is, as long as people keep posting that way, people will keep assuming that this is how one posts to the Forge (and that the correction process is some sort of trial by fire).

People come here all the time, get all sorts of good advice, and all without GNS ever being mentioned.

Yes, at some point we'll probably refer people to the essays. So we don't have to write them again in explaining some particular problem. But that's only when the problem is related. For example, I often refer people to System Does Matter, not because of it's primitive GNS content (indeed, I'm afraid of using that essay for just that reason), but instead because it has a very important point that people often miss, namely that embodied in the title.


Basically, there's no way to make the Forge more "open" seeming that doesn't involve one of two things. The first thing, and one that we can't do, is to drop the terminology. That would make all the work done so far pointless. The second thing, and one we can all do, is to take this thread as a warning that when you see a newbie tossing around GNS, the thing to do is not to correct him, but to point out that it's not important. If somebody doesn't understand GNS, there's no way that there aren't other issues to work through in the design as well.

Then, eventually when a design get's to the point where it has to look at GNS (assuming that it ever has to), enough will have been said about it that an intelligent analysis can occur. And hopefully the person will have had some time to get up to speed.

GNS does't cloud Indie Design. Misapplication of GNS clouds Indie Design. GNS is about the last thing that one should look at in their design. And not as some goal, really, but more as a check for functionality. Anything else is an over-application.

It's a great irony that, while we who promulgate theory about GNS are interested in it, and find it important, we don't believe it to be the end all of design. In fact, in some ways it's a very very small part. It's just that it gets discussed so much that people assume repeatedly, and mistakenly, that it's some sort of complete theory of everything role-playing. As soon as people start to realize that it's just a fraction of what's going on, and that there's a jillion other things going on in design, the problem will evaporate.

IMO. All one can do is keep repeating that like a mantra (I've written this so many times now I've considered making it Rant #6). The stickies at the top of Indie Design make this clear IMO, though perhaps they could be reworded some I suppose. But they get ignored as it is, and I'm not sure what can be done to prevent J Random Poster from making mistakes. What we who know better can do is to respond to them as best is possible.

Mike