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Author Topic: Why This?  (Read 7420 times)
Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« on: July 30, 2005, 02:22:14 PM »

I've spent a couple of hours now paging through the theory discussions here.  I asked a question on design a week or so back, since I'm doing some.  But I am plainly mystified as to why folks here tend towards a few specific behaviors.  I'm going to try to point them out so others can explain them to me - please accept that any clumsiness in my wording is exactly that.

1. Academic Tones. There's precision, and I agree with that; special terms for special use.  And then there's the habit of using large and clumsy words when small and plain ones will serve as well and be understood by more people.   In my reading thus far, I've seen both - in some cases, in the interests of precision; in others, it seems that some of the posters here are simply stuck in the academic tone of voice.  Why is this the case?

2. The Implied Right Way. The intense focus on one model, comprehensive as it may be (and it seems prety  impressive), carries with it the implication that the factors taken into account by this model are inherently important.  This, in itself, creates the idea that games that don't fit well with the model, or folks that can't or aren't interested in learning and using the vocabulary and being able to place their games within the model are somehow doing things badly.  I may be underestimating the ability of the model to grow and change to include to new types of games, but learning how do that requires first learning the ropes - and learning the ropes may well discourage someone from spinning out their ideas, because those ideas aren't "framed" well, and so must be screwed up in some way.  Has anyone ever tried to address this, or do the folks here even consider that a valid concern?

3.  Where are the tools?  I have been told by RPG theorists many times that one of the main points of theory is to develop tools for better design of, and better running of, games, by whatever standard they are run.   To date, I have seen only "alternate viewpoints" - and while looking at my games in a new light can be helpful, I don't see that a new  perspective is necessarily a tool; if it is, then I've see precisely one tool in about two hours of paging about.  Where are they?

If any of these seems rude, then I apologize for that.  I've heard that there's a great deal to be learned here - but trying to learn it seems more an exercise in frustation than in enlightenment, and I'm frustrated.
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Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2005, 02:26:51 PM »

Just realized this should be in Site Discussion.

Drat.
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Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2005, 03:46:44 PM »

Hiya Levi,

In terms of unnessersary academic tones, I've hardly ever noticed that. When I have noticed (ie, it got to be too much...the term 'brockolage' or however its spelled comes to mind) I usually either skipped the thread or read some replies to see if there was a good reason to dig through that post. I'm not obliged to read everything, I come here because I might find something useful rather than feeling I have to read everything like its a school book.

On the right way, if everyone at the forge wrote in french, would it imply french is the 'right' language to use? Nah, what it implies is that many people only speak french, and in the interests of better communication others speak it too. Otherwise we would just spend over half out time trying to make ourselves clear to each other. At the forge the language is about using words that everyone understands. I mean, the difference between narrativism and narration can make massive, wasted threads of missunderstanding. It'd be great if everyone could use the language their used to, but what's the practical use if no ones making any sense to each other?

Did it put me off when I got here? Well there was a lot of jargon floating around and...I ignored it if it got to be too much. Over time, curiosity had me learn this little bit of terminology and that. It took me ages before I read the essays on sim, gamism and eventually nar. While other people seem to try and absorb it all as soon as they get here. Do you know why? Is it from previous board experience, where if you got basic wrong, some snot would walk all over you? And the academic tones here would suggest that happens at the forge as well?

On tools, the glossary seems to contain tons of them (scene framing is a fave of mine). Its in the articles section (link at the top).
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Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2005, 04:11:24 PM »

I've noticed Academic-talk just a few times.  Usually, thus far, it's when Mr.Edwards is responding to something, and he sounds fairly precise - maybe just a little academic, but not much, and he's making what seem to be pretty good points.   Then I scroll up to see what precisely he is responding to, because context is good.  And then I meet something I need to wade through, and dismiss the whole thing.   Ah, I'll probably get used to it, though.

Now, as to the French analogy (which is a good analogy); I'm going to stretch it a bit.   Lat's say I've just come up with the idea of Flavored Creamers; not necessarily the best idea in history, but an interesting one.  Let's also say that someone told me that French was the best language to use when talking about coffee.  So, I start learning French.  And, finally, let's say "Flavored Creamer" just doesn't work as a French phrase - it doesn't fit the language.  I might fail to ask about the "Flavored Creamers", possibly because of some fear of rejection, possibly because I'm busy trying to imprint myself with French, and the idea simply gets lost in the shuffle, or destroyed in the overlay of language patterns.  Do you see what I'm getting at?

I read the glossary on first arrival...   gonna go read it again, now.
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 2591


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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2005, 04:17:52 PM »

I'm sure we'll be moved when Ron gets around here. Meanwhile, my take. Remember that this is something of a persistent topic here (started around when I registered, I seem to remember) and surfaces every few months. Everybody seems to think that we're just too difficult to understand, and then we go around thinking up ways to be easier. Covered ground, and it all comes back to whether a given person should worry about it at all. No skin off my nose if people don't get the site, per se.

That being said, let me address your concern: is it possible that the Forge simply doesn't offer anything you need? Either your interests are not in the stuff we have here, or your background education is not compatible, or your experiences are not at all similar to those who write here? Any of the above could mean that the Forge won't work for you simply as a passive resource. You'd have to enter a dialogue to find common ground with folks here, and get into benefit that way. It's even possible that there's no benefit to be had, we certainly don't know everything here.

As for the theoretical bias, I personally don't think there is one. Anybody is rather free to start from the first principles of actual play and design and work their way up from there, without ever touching Ron's model. We all do from time to time. I agree with people who say that a given theory (Ron's, for example) is vulnerable to misuse and blind spots, but I don't agree that the mere existence of such a theory somehow pollutes all thought on a given site. If that happens here, why not the whole Internet, then? And if it doesn't, then the complaint reduces to whining about how a given specific viewpoint is not represented enough. That's easily enough corrected, if you're willing to lay down the stuff instead of complaining that nobody else has done it, yet.

Still, the fact remains that most of the stuff at the Forge tends to the sociological view of roleplaying, viewing it as social, cultural and psychological activity instead of some other possibilities for theory. This is of course because people with similar interests tend to congregate. I don't see why that needs to be a mystery.

Last, let me tell you about the tools. I'll give you a list of some terms, and you can search for them from the site. It's no wonder if you don't find them yourself, because this is a discussion forum, not a compact treatise on rpg theory and practice.
Tools:
- Relationship maps
- Bangs
- Lines and Veils
- Bobs, Crosses and Weaves
- Premise
- Illusionism
- Lumpley Principle
- Social Contract
- Stance
- IIEE
- Scene Framing
- Credibility
- GM tasks
- Crunch
- DFK
- Heartbreaker
- Force
- That Chris Lehrich article up in the articles section
- Immersion
- Impossible Thing Before Breakfast
- The Infamous Five
- Mainstream
- No Myth
- Points of Contact
- Reward cycle
- SIS
Those are some of my favourite tools. I don't know if they qualify for you, though. What one considers a tool is strictly dependent on whether one is doing carpentry or masonry, for example. That list includes some of the most powerful ideas I've ever encountered in terms of roleplaying, and I've this week alone played three sessions, with a fourth to come, applying them to some of the consistently best roleplaying in my life. Opened at least one set of eyes, too, if the person in question is to be believed.

Of course, I lied. I know that the above tools won't cut it for you, because you told you'd read the discussions here and didn't find the tools there. So you'll have to take my word on it; each of those words hides a separate tool of rpg design and actual play, and they're such tools as to allow me unprecedented freedom in understanding what I'm doing in play. The thing is: you'll have to read and understand the articles to get a full picture of the underlying assumptions before any of the discussions start making sense. You see, we make sense to each other, most of the time. Complaints about us not making sense thus aren't perhaps as interesting as they could be.

So that's my viewpoint on the topic, after mainly reading a lot of these threads about how Forge should do this or that to make it easier on folks. I hope I explained something about why people act in these mystifying ways you listed. Mostly it's just because we're each passionate about the hobby, have no obligation to make sense towards those outside the discussion, and have each our own narrow band of interests. You could go to my new thread about initializing the rpg experience in the theory forums and read it. I consider it (especially Paul's posts) very interesting for my design, including several tools, but if you don't get the same wibe what more is there to be said? Miscommunication is a fact of life.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2005, 04:25:28 PM »

Hi Levi,

Basically, you're asking, "How does any of this help me?"  Right?

For any design, here's what you need to know:

1) What is the goal of your game?  Where does the fun come from?
2) How do you make that fun stuff come about?  What part of the rules help that?  How does the group decide what happens?  Who is in charge of what aspects of play?

That's it.  The theory is a detailed examination of what happens during actual play.  Obviously, if your goal is to get specific types of play happening, then the theory can help you answer those questions in detail, according to what happens.  When you ask about design, we need to know #1 and #2 to really be able to help you.  You can put that in your own words, or in terminology, but that is really the heart of what is necessary for design.

Where the theory helps the most- is in figuring out what aspect of play is responsible for what's happening.  Most people end up confusing the length of the ears of elves in their game for causing Jim to be a jerk at the table- perhaps not in such an obvious fashion- but it happens enough to where the theory is one way of clearly pointing out to many people that there are many levels to play.  Whether that sounds worthwhile for you to learn, is up to you.

But if you want help, answer #1, work on #2, and people will try their best to help you along.

Chris
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Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2005, 04:46:47 PM »

Quotes are from Eero Tuovinen, above, are in italics.

I'm sure we'll be moved when Ron gets around here. Meanwhile, my take.

Glad to hear it.

Remember that this is something of a persistent topic here (started around when I registered, I seem to remember) and surfaces every few months. Everybody seems to think that we're just too difficult to understand, and then we go around thinking up ways to be easier. Covered ground, and it all comes back to whether a given person should worry about it at all. No skin off my nose if people don't get the site, per se.

None at all off you.  I can't imagine any possible reason you should care I wander off, and I'm not going to try and tell you I have world-shattering ideas unless I want to get a good laugh.

That being said, let me address your concern: is it possible that the Forge simply doesn't offer anything you need?

Doubtful...   I keep getting close to going "Aha!", but just don't quite get there.   Which irritates me intently.

Either your interests are not in the stuff we have here, or your background education is not compatible, or your experiences are not at all similar to those who write here? Any of the above could mean that the Forge won't work for you simply as a passive resource. You'd have to enter a dialogue to find common ground with folks here, and get into benefit that way. It's even possible that there's no benefit to be had, we certainly don't know everything here.

My background education is public school / Bible College (towards a Bachelor of Arts in Religion).  I've *played* under twenty sessions in RPGs, but I've *run* about that many games for a minimum of a dozen games each.  So those might be partly true.

As for the theoretical bias, I personally don't think there is one. Anybody is rather free to start from the first principles of actual play and design and work their way up from there, without ever touching Ron's model. We all do from time to time. I agree with people who say that a given theory (Ron's, for example) is vulnerable to misuse and blind spots, but I don't agree that the mere existence of such a theory somehow pollutes all thought on a given site. If that happens here, why not the whole Internet, then?

I found this site by asking why people felt the need to tag discussions in other places as [non-GNS].  So it does spread.  But I see your point.

And if it doesn't, then the complaint reduces to whining about how a given specific viewpoint is not represented enough. That's easily enough corrected, if you're willing to lay down the stuff instead of complaining that nobody else has done it, yet.

Point for you, there.  Though I think it is *possible* for good ideas to be simply lost in the process of "language conversion", I'll grant that this is the internet.  Whining about an idea's non-representation is simply many orders of magnitude more common than failure to retain it.

Still, the fact remains that most of the stuff at the Forge tends to the sociological view of roleplaying, viewing it as social, cultural and psychological activity instead of some other possibilities for theory. This is of course because people with similar interests tend to congregate. I don't see why that needs to be a mystery.

Last, let me tell you about the tools. I'll give you a list of some terms, and you can search for them from the site. It's no wonder if you don't find them yourself, because this is a discussion forum, not a compact treatise on rpg theory and practice.


A tool list!  Sweet!

Tools:
- Relationship maps
- Bangs
- Lines and Veils
- Bobs, Crosses and Weaves
- Premise
- Illusionism
- Lumpley Principle
- Social Contract
- Stance
- IIEE
- Scene Framing
- Credibility
- GM tasks
- Crunch
- DFK
- Heartbreaker
- Force
- That Chris Lehrich article up in the articles section
- Immersion
- Impossible Thing Before Breakfast
- The Infamous Five
- Mainstream
- No Myth
- Points of Contact
- Reward cycle
- SIS
Those are some of my favourite tools. I don't know if they qualify for you, though. What one considers a tool is strictly dependent on whether one is doing carpentry or masonry, for example. That list includes some of the most powerful ideas I've ever encountered in terms of roleplaying, and I've this week alone played three sessions, with a fourth to come, applying them to some of the consistently best roleplaying in my life. Opened at least one set of eyes, too, if the person in question is to be believed.


I've noted some of those before, but couldn't figure out what precisely they were.

Of course, I lied. I know that the above tools won't cut it for you, because you told you'd read the discussions here and didn't find the tools there. So you'll have to take my word on it; each of those words hides a separate tool of rpg design and actual play, and they're such tools as to allow me unprecedented freedom in understanding what I'm doing in play. The thing is: you'll have to read and understand the articles to get a full picture of the underlying assumptions before any of the discussions start making sense.

Let me see if I've got this straight.

The bulk of the discussions I've been paging through are about the *implementation* of tools.   I can't figure them out there because - analogy moment - I don't know what a saw is, and therefore a discussion of the merits of cutting with and across the grain is obviously going to be useless?

You see, we make sense to each other, most of the time. Complaints about us not making sense thus aren't perhaps as interesting as they could be.

This wasn't actually intended as a complaint; I'm sorry if it came off as such.

So that's my viewpoint on the topic, after mainly reading a lot of these threads about how Forge should do this or that to make it easier on folks. I hope I explained something about why people act in these mystifying ways you listed. Mostly it's just because we're each passionate about the hobby, have no obligation to make sense towards those outside the discussion, and have each our own narrow band of interests.

Yes, you have been most helpful, assuming I'm reading you right.

You could go to my new thread about initializing the rpg experience in the theory forums and read it. I consider it (especially Paul's posts) very interesting for my design, including several tools, but if you don't get the same wibe what more is there to be said? Miscommunication is a fact of life.

I suspect I'll be hunting down the tools you've named and trying to wrap my head around them for a while.  Including those in your thread.
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Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2005, 05:08:38 PM »

You may now officially mock me at your leisure.

Though I read the glossary here, I did so by means of a link inside a post, and failed to look around when I did it.

I didn't look twice at the actual Articles link right at the top of the bloody page until re-reading Eero Tuovinen's post.

Again, mock me at your leisure.
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Michael S. Miller
Member

Posts: 846


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« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2005, 05:26:15 PM »

Hi, Levi.

I'm just taking a break from putting the finishing touches on my game and I happened upon this thread. My first thought about tools: How can he possibly not find the tools! They're everywhere. I've just been writing about them for months ... in my game.[/b] {cue forehead slap}

So the problem is that many of these tools are explained in step-by-step detail on teh Forge itself, but in the texts of games that have come out of the Forge and shaped our thinking. If you want to learn how to use Bangs and Kickers, read Sorcerer and Sorcerer & Sword. Relationship Maps are in The Sorcerer's Soul. Bobs, weaves, crosses, lines & veils are in Sex & Sorcery. Trollbabe is bootcamp for Stances, and Stakes. Stakes also shine in Burning Wheel, and Dogs in the Vineyard. I'd recommend My Life with Master as teaching great scene framing. The game's author might not agree, but InSpectres is great for learning No Myth--but so is Burning Wheel's circles mechanic. Social contract is center stage in PrimeTime Adventures and Universalis and Capes.

Read the games. Play the games. That's where the tools are.
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Darren Hill
Member

Posts: 861


« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2005, 07:23:05 PM »

1. Academic Tones. There's precision, and I agree with that; special terms for special use.

When I first came to the Forge, I was a little startled by the level of discourse and some of the alien jargon being thrown about, and thought it would be so much easier if they used common language.
Then, later, I was in the position of trying to explain some of the stuff I learned at the Forge to friends, and really started to appreciate the groundwork done at the forge of defining some really tough-to-explain concepts. Without a common understanding of foundational concepts, you are doomed to a minefield of misunderstanding.
Yes, many points on the Forge could probably be made more digestible, but when the jargon is learned, those words become like any other - you use them naturally and don't really notice it.

2. The Implied Right Way. The intense focus on one model, comprehensive as it may be (and it seems prety  impressive), carries with it the implication that the factors taken into account by this model are inherently important

This is inevitable, if you understand the history of the Forge. When the Forge was set up, if I understand correctly, its major focus was in discussing and hashing out what became the Big Model. So naturally, it's going to have a privileged position here.
Imagine you visited a forum set up to discuss, ooh, evolution. You would observe that the people there seemed to talk about evolution a lot, and other areas of science didn't get anywhere near the same attention.
The focus and interest on the Big Model here at the Forge is entirely because the that's what the Forge is for. Hope that helps put it in context.

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Larry L.
Member

Posts: 616

aka Miskatonic


« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2005, 10:23:52 PM »

Read the games. Play the games. That's where the tools are.

What Mike said. This whole site is a bunch of theoretical wanking until you see how it ties in with actual gameplay.

Hop over to Actual Play and write about how your games work (or don't work) and folks will usually be happy to show you how this stuff happens in application.
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Andrew Cooper
Member

Posts: 724


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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2005, 10:44:57 AM »

You may now officially mock me at your leisure.

Though I read the glossary here, I did so by means of a link inside a post, and failed to look around when I did it.

I didn't look twice at the actual Articles link right at the top of the bloody page until re-reading Eero Tuovinen's post.

Again, mock me at your leisure.

We don't do that here.  We don't flame and we don't mock people for not getting it (or missing where it is located).  It's one of the reasons I enjoy being here.  I can ask a question that makes everyone think "How the hell can he not understand  that?" and instead of ridicule I'll actually get responses that are aimed at helping me understand.  Ron's a great moderator.  These are my favorite boards on the Internet because of it.

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daMoose_Neo
Member

Posts: 890


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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2005, 05:22:35 PM »

I have to second that.
The Forge is highly unlike any other forum in that respect: folks won't hold your hand, but if you ask for assistance, clarification, or the like, you *will* get it, in a constructive and reletively digestable chunk.
As for some other comments, I have a feeling the tone of discourse here is one that helps that friendly atmosphere. Its been my observation that its typically your "ub3r 133t" kids that resort to insults, flame wars, and some of the least thought out posts and general gaming content.
Folks here take their play seriously, and take your ideas seriously as well. You really have to burn some bridges to get folks to step out on you, as most here will listen with an open ear and mind, even if they disagree, which is just plain awesome.
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
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Levi Kornelsen
Member

Posts: 210


« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2005, 12:39:27 AM »

Okay, I've read and assimilated a great deal...   eventually, I'll have some more in-depth questions about these ideas, but I need to try them out in actual games first.

In the meantime, I'm going to open a whole new can of worms, and see if anyone here has thoughts.

But thanks, everyone.  I've found the stuff.  Now I'm digesting - slowly.
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contracycle
Member

Posts: 2807


« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2005, 05:41:33 AM »

So the problem is that many of these tools are explained in step-by-step detail on teh Forge itself, but in the texts of games that have come out of the Forge and shaped our thinking.
...
Read the games. Play the games. That's where the tools are.

Well thats valid as far it goes, but I'm afraid it bugs me a great deal.  For example, I Sorceror was not stocked at my stores for quite some time.  I won't pay real money for a bunch of electrons.  And I feel like being instructed to pay someone money just to read about a game idea borders on blackmail - especailly if that idea is fundmanetal to much discussion.

IMO, if the purpose is to disseminate information, knowledge, and understanding, then this default position is counterproductive.

And thus I sympathise with the cry "where are the tools".  We have principles, and theories, but I'm not convinced that there is really anything procedurally developed enough that you could pick it up and actually do something with it.
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