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Author Topic: Let me see if I can articulate my problem with the Forge  (Read 7566 times)
ffilz
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« on: February 03, 2005, 09:27:00 AM »

I've really been struggling here. I understand there is a lot of cool theory, but it isn't presented in a digestible format. Sure, there are some essays, but from what I can see, they do not represent current thinking, not to mention even if they did they still engender questions. The problem I see is that when newcommers try and open a discussion to ask questions about the theory to understand it, they get pointed to several existing threads and hundreds of posts - which they have to read through and absorb without all the context. I personally have given up on this tack because I just don't see how I can come away from those threads and really see the points they raised. If there's a conclusion, why not post it somewhere. Write new essays. Or be willing to help newcommers understand.

Or admit that the Forge is an elite think tank (which is not a bad thing). But if so, it would be nice to have some pointers to other forums that are more open to discussion.

I came here when I was bailing out of d20 and looking for a more general place to discuss RPG theory since discussion of what CR this new monster is are of almost no use to me, but discussions about how I might add some different techniques to the game systems I am playing would be valuable.

I've really tried hard to follow the suggested path to enlightenment of posting in actual play. My posts there have elicited questions, which I've tried to answer and then the line goes dead. I get no feedback if my answers were helpful or not, and worse, the questions seemed to be trying to open a dialogue (I mean it's one thing to ask "hey did you roll dice for that or just decide" "I just decided" but different to ask "hey did you roll dice or just decide, and if you just decided, how do you think your decision was interpreted by the players").

I continually wonder here whether part of the problem is that I'm not articulating my thoughts well. I feel like part of the problem is that I am still enjoying old school gaming, while the Forge participants in general have moved on. But shouldn't old school gaming be part of theory also?

It feels to me like the Forge has useful insight for me, but it feels to me like it's totally the wrong place for me to be.

I'm sorry if this is sort of ranty, I'm just frustrated. I want to talk about my gaming to others, and I realize I have to find a place where people are interested, but it feels to me like the gaming community is overwhelmingly interested in d20, and those that aren't are interested in games that I just find inaccessible to me. I can pick up the new style games, and see cool things in them, but I don't see how they play (ok, so I need to get out and play more, but I've related my experiences there).

Frank
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Frank Filz
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2005, 09:39:27 AM »

Hi Frank,

I don't get it. On the one hand, you say the actual play threads "go dead," and on the other you say that the responses you receive "seem to be trying to open a dialogue."

But maybe that's not even worth discussing or debating, unless you want to. The key point is that you have a desired goal of posting on-line about role-playing, and that despite many efforts on others' parts, it's not being realized for some reason.

It also seems clear to me that you have not experienced a whole lot of satisfaction in all your experiences of role-playing, which makes it very hard to understand your goals when you post. It's like entering into a romantic relationship with someone who says they've never enjoyed romance, sex, relationships, or whatever. Posting at the Forge cannot give you that satisfaction; it can only provide what posting at the Forge provides - the possibility (no guarantee) of greater understanding. But what is it you seek greater understanding of? Anything? As I say, in your case, it's very hard to tell.

I suggest participating at Vincent Baker's blog (see lumpley's profile for website link) and checking out his short essays and diagrams about how role-playing works. He has a nice touch with explaining things and laying out ideas nicely that I think would work better for you. He's a lot nicer to people as people than (for instance) I am. Although of course you're welcome to keep posting here, and I at least, as in the past, will attempt to participate in your threads that I have time for, and/or which interest me. I'm sure others will do the same, as it's just the normal behavior we do.

For what it's worth, Vincent and I are in 100% agreement in terms of all that theory-stuff, so if it matters to anyone, whatever he says is plain old Forge-ness to me. But if it helps someone to think of using his (great) material as a defiance of nasty ol' Forge jargon and theory-heads, then so be it. Either way is good.

Best,
Ron
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ffilz
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2005, 09:39:39 AM »

Hmm, I just had a bit of an insight...

In a lot of ways, I'm feeling the same way here about being able to open my mouth and contribute as I do when I play (as opposed to GM) games. Now maybe this just makes it all something that I have to overcome myself, but think about the responses people have made to my play accounts, and how you approach newcommers trying to dip their feet in the water here. Are the similarities I see real?

Frank
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Frank Filz
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2005, 09:47:57 AM »

Good insight (sorry about the cross-post).

Statistics on Forge participation indicate that many people show up and manage to find their feet as discussion members very, very well.

There is certainly a bar of behavior, reading, etc, that must be reached upon arriving here and wishing to participate. That bar is definitely too high at this stage in the game (realize that the Forge was constructed in the assumption that membership would never exceed, say, 200 people). Vincent's recent work, I think, is the perfect solution, or rather, an example of what must ultimately become a plural solution.

However, a bar is not a barrier. That's an important point.

Nor can this site, or any site, automatically provide "hooray, instant understanding, instant wonderful acceptance, instant enlightenment" for anyone. Hell, I don't know whether ultimately we provide any such thing, although many great games have been written and published successfully which I don't think would have happened otherwise.

I do wish you well, Frank. What matters to me is whether you get anything out of being here. If you really really really can't (failings being laid at whoever's door, doesn't matter), then I think I've provided at least one constructive solution.

Best,
Ron
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ffilz
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2005, 10:01:30 AM »

I do get something out of being here (otherwise I would have disappeared long ago), but it feels like I could get so more. What is heartening to see is a realization that articles and essays do need to be written. I also understand that articles and essays take time. What would help in the interim is to find a way to be more open to people exploring the already covered ground (because they weren't there the first time). I totally agree that such exploration can't happen in the main threads (in fact, part of what makes the referenced threads difficult is that one has to read each post and try and figure out if it is advancing that ancient thread or not).

Hmm, another thought - a list of particularly illustrative games would be nice. I gained a lot of understanding from Universalis because it does such a good job of highlighting the IIEE procedures and is so explicit in how it distributes credibility and authority (and calling the credibility tokens coinage and not abstract tokens). Of course it took a few explorations on the Forge to see just how the game connected with theory.  Imagine if the glossary pointed to Universalis as an excellent example of clear IIEE proceedures and Authority/Credibility.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Bankuei
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2005, 11:55:04 AM »

Hi Frank,

While looking at old or new topics, and finding that maybe you want to explore a bit deeper into a certain subject, or get a clarification for what someone has said, it can help a lot to privately message some folks and get some more info.  

I was going through my inbox today, clearing out old stuff, but also saving quite a bit as well, because individually people are often better able to answer questions or elaborate, sometimes also being able to drop normal "crowd etiquette" and being more blunt or precise in communication.

It's often easier to do the back and forth of question and response when 10 other people don't jump in and add their view of the same thing.  Find a few folks who you like, and/or find easy to understand, and try asking them for some thoughts and/or clarification.  

It helped me out a lot in getting theory, and I suspect it can help you or anyone else who is curious.

Chris
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Paganini
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2005, 01:48:39 PM »

So, would it like, help, if someone had a "Forge Theory for Beginners" series or something like that up on a blog? There've been a lot of attempts to summarize and so on, but no one ever seems to read them on site, because they're in old threads.

Or, I dunno. Vincent's stuff at his site seems pretty good. Do people just not know about it?
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ffilz
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2005, 01:58:39 PM »

I definitely think summaries, new essays, and such would help.

Today is the first I've realized that Vincent might have some stuff on his site. Haven't dug very far into it yet.

Frank
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Frank Filz
Christopher Weeks
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2005, 02:01:04 PM »

Today's a great day to realize it given the current Open House.  It makes it easier to do the research.
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ffilz
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2005, 02:04:14 PM »

Hmm, that wasn't there this morning... :-)

Frank
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Frank Filz
John Kim
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2005, 03:04:16 PM »

Well, since no one else has mentioned it, I thought I would reference the Theory Topics page at Doyce's RandomWiki site.  I seeded this with a dump of information in December, but since then a number of people have been adding to it.  

http://random.average-bear.com/TheoryTopics/HomePage

I think it's a good reference source, especially since unlike the essays it's hyperlinked into the original discussions and is frequently being updated.
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- John
crookedface
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2005, 06:41:14 PM »

Hallo,

I've not participated in discussions here enough to mention. The reason for that is that I've never found the GNS useful and far too many interesting topics I see here are littered with GNS references.

I do stop in on occasion to look for updated material on GNS, though, and then poke around in some threads and find out the articles are dated. I don't have time to read lengthy threads to update the info in the articles, so my understanding of GNS is always dated.

And that's too bad. I'm planning a new site for discussion and I'd love to be able to add commentary and discussion of GNS to it. At this point, I can only post comments on an outdated version, though, so it won't be of use for any Forgies who stop by. Heck, it won't even be of much value for non-Forgies, because they won't be able to then discuss the matter with Forgies.

I can only hope that the dissolution of the Forge results in a group of sites that include at least a few that actively pursue theoretical discussions not grounded in GNS. There are a great many people with interesting thoughts on game theory who aren't Forgies and I think mixing with lots of different approaches will prove stimulating for everybody involved.

Larry Hols
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clehrich
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2005, 10:52:13 PM »

Larry & Frank,

You know, oddly enough perhaps, I agree with you.  We do need some intro articles that give a nice broad, clear overview with no mucking about and no getting into technical details.  But these things require two things:[list=1][*]An author willing to do it, and
[*]Time[/list:o]Thus far, we haven't got that.  I feel happy saying this, because I think you'll agree that I'm not the guy to write this stuff.  I have my strengths, perhaps, but pure lucidity for those not familiar with this material and wanting a quick overview isn't one of them.  I suck at that.

I still think the GNS forum needs a split, so that questions like "I don't get Nar" in whatever form can have a happy home.  Not a kiddie pool, but a serious place to ask questions and get serious answers.  Let the maniacs discuss weird technicalities in their own mad playpen, and have a place for normal people to deal with normal concerns.  Right?

I wish I knew what happened to that.  I thought everyone agreed on it.

Beyond that, I will say that Jonathan Walton and I are slowly but surely working toward a book that will include articles explaining some of this stuff very clearly and in a straightforward manner.  But it's going to take, you got it, time.

The one last thing I want to leave you with is this: the stuff here isn't that bad, nor are the discussions all that daunting.  Here's a suggestion.  Post a big whack of Actual Play, in that forum, and ask a GNS question (or whatever it is you're struggling with or aren't sure about).  If someone says, "You don't get it, you're an idiot," Ron will kick his ass.  That's really Ron's #1 job, actually.  [Ron Edwards, butt-kicker extraordinaire.  He's got it on his business cards.]  If you state openly that you're not that confident about GNS or Big Model or whatever, and you ask questions, people will try to help.  Just take the responses one at a time and go from there.  It's just not that big a deal, really it's not.

Nobody here is a red-toothed monster.  Well, I am, actually, but I keep it in check.  The vast majority of us want to help, and want everyone joining in talking about theory, at whatever level.  

Because, you know, it's like teaching.  I learn a huge amount from my students, and that's not touchie-feelie talk.  Questions asked in class make me think, "Huh.  I never thought of it like that.  What does that mean?  How do I think about that?"  And most stuff in what I actually read is less stimulating.  So I, and everyone else here, really want you to ask those questions.  We learn something, and if you learn something too we feel that something exciting is happening.

But let me be blunt.  If you sit and wait for an "aha!" post, it's never going to happen.  Most learning is active, and my experience of the Forge is that most learning here is active.  So get active, write some actual play, and in the responding to people's responses you will suddenly see just how easy all this really is.
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Chris Lehrich
ffilz
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2005, 09:43:31 AM »

Quote

But let me be blunt. If you sit and wait for an "aha!" post, it's never going to happen. Most learning is active, and my experience of the Forge is that most learning here is active. So get active, write some actual play, and in the responding to people's responses you will suddenly see just how easy all this really is.

Oh I agree, at least for me (I think there are people who can just read and absorb). What I've been having trouble with is getting much response to my posts. I'm sure part of it is that I'm posting or asking the wrong things. Another part perhaps is that I am not ready to give up old school gaming (so my actual play posts have been pretty old school). Someone did post a nice outline for an actual play post so I will try and follow that outline next time I post.

I'd appreciate any comments on my recent actual play posts that anyone has to share. PM if you don't feel it needs to be said publicly, though I know people posting "tell us the goals of your game" etc. in Indie Games was helpful to me in understanding better how to approach that kind of post.

Frank
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Frank Filz
greedo1379
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Posts: 123


« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2005, 10:25:55 PM »

Quote
So, would it like, help, if someone had a "Forge Theory for Beginners" series or something like that up on a blog?


Mother of god yes.

Frank, I think I'm in a similar situation.  I like old school rescuing the princess, killing the dragon type games are more my speed.  I know what maybe a handful of the commonly used terms ("Big Model"?  "Narrativist"?) mean.  I usually just go through the new posts and open a couple that sound interesting.  Sometimes I find something useful and intersting and sometimes I don't.

I find that if you want to start an actual dialogue the best way to do it is to ask a question.  Or a couple of questions.  Just posting a run down of a recent game in Actual Play doesn't seem to get much in the way of responses.  Folks that say: "This is what we did but I don't know if I like the way it turned out and here's why.  Does anyone have any suggestions how to do this better?" get much more responses.

Give your actual play posts more interesting titles! :)  I'll post.
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