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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Helping new arrivals who have already made many choices  (Read 3599 times)
Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« on: September 23, 2005, 07:23:30 PM »

This came up in a recent thread. I'd describe the situation as a new member of the Forge asking for help with their project (in this case it was a computer game). However, they had already made a lot of choices about what a game should contain. The help the member sought didn't ask for these choices to be questioned. Instead they should be taken as a set in stone and any help provided should be in context with those choices.

Often these requests for help feel like "I'm walking on broken glass, can you suggest anything to stop my feet bleeding? What? No I don't want to discuss not walking on the glass in the first place...I thought this was an open minded community!?"

The problem is further convoluted by the fact that glass walking may indeed suit their goals to a T. So again one might ask them whether perhaps the bleeding is feature and not a bug. But this again doesn't directly help them and they know that, so "Look, I just want help on stopping my feet bleeding!" is the responce.

If someone is interested in help that's in context with a bunch of choices, that doesn't mean their somehow interested in questioning those choices. So how can anyone here use forge theory, shit which basically questions these choices at their roots, to help them?

Hell, you'd be better off just saying "Hey, wanna play an IRC/PBEM of indie game X?". That might demonstrate some theory and cause some interest in it (so they might ask a question directly about theory).

Older forge members are able to break down jargon into pallatable sentences. But these guys questions don't match how I think the forge works, IMO. In computer jargon, it's like the forge is about writing function libraries and using them. New members who just want to use the libraries they've already written up. But they are then having trouble achieving their ends with those libraries and go on to ask "I don't want to change the library, I just want you to help me get what I want out of what I've already got".

This is like a generation gap or something. If someone comes here wanting the sort of help that isn't provided by the site, can anyone use witful prose/breaking down jargon to make them want the sort of help we provide?*

What to do!!??

* Yeah, I'm including a big assumption that I know what the forge provides. Atleast as a forge member, I do know what I can provide myself. And it doesn't match these needs.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
TonyLB
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Posts: 3702


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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2005, 09:08:19 PM »

Well, a quick remedy to the desperation that I sense lurking is to remember this:  You are under no obligation to post answers when you don't have the answers to the questions they're asking.  If they're asking questions in a way that prevents you (personally) from helping then you are allowed (nay, encouraged!) to shrug your shoulders, say "Oh well" and move on to reading the next post.

Seriously, silence is not a bad thing.  It took me a long time to learn that lesson.  I hope it will be helpful.
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Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 455

Geneva, Switzerland


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« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2005, 03:24:27 AM »

Let me offer this piece of traditional chinese wisdom:

"What is good for you isn't necessarily good for others."

When this situation arises, use Tony's advice.
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Regards,
Christoph
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2005, 09:08:49 AM »

Hi,

There is no way to guarantee communication, understanding, or agreement amongst anyone, period.  You try to communicate in the clearest, simplest way possible, possibly having to take into account a subtext rather than the overt communication in some regards, and that's all you can do.

Hopefully the information and the way you provide it either gets someone going in the direction they want, or shows them that there's no way to really get what they want from what you've got.  A fair part of discussion might just be trying to figure out (and help someone else figure out) what it is they themselves really want, if the communications are unclear or shifting.

This generally applies to all communication, the internet, the phone, face to face, and about anything, not just game theory.

Chris
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Callan S.
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Posts: 3588


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« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2005, 12:38:45 PM »

I'm really not sure about silence at all. The forge open invite for members is like a gaming table that has a largely open invite. If someone sits down and starts talking stuff that doesn't meet the established players agenda, ignoring them over it is contradictory to the open invite "Yes you can come and play with us...oh, your talking about that...I'm going to ignore you/stop playing with you"

It's tyranny of structurelessness stuff, where an agenda has sprung up, but the explicit game information conveyed to new players doesn't cover it. The new player is left to searching for the 'vibe' of the game, which is less a fixed thing and instead defined from moment to moment by the current authority, whoever that is.

In the thread I'd say I added some advice and the original poster basically shrugged it off as incorrect. But someone saying just that doesn't tell you their working with an entirely different structure to yours. You can easily work off the assumption that they are indeed working from the same structure, but somehow you didn't convey your information right. So you try again and again and it's easy to see the friction building up.

And then the moderator guidance of "reign in your ego's" is added. On a topic related yet separate to helping new members, this is how I've usually seen tyranny of structurelessness administrated. Implying personality issues rather than addressing a real lack of shared structure. Again, this just leaves a current member grasping for the 'vibe' because the idea is that if they don't they are just big, blow hard ego's or something.

Rather than ego, it's usually the passionate pursuit of a goal, even while the other person is interested in an entirely different goal. I see passion a lot in Capes actual play accounts. There was one where Tony noted that a game discussion about lizard men killing people Vs lizard men capturing people and the thematic difference would in the past have ended up in bitter and drawn out discussion. Because two people would be passionately pursing different goals and had no hard structure to resolve that, barring someone saying "Reign in your ego's!". However, in his capes example, they did resolve it and with a smile no less.

Personally I'd say it was tyranny of structurelessness that helped me toward bitterest gamer in the word territory. Because when your afraid your ego is going to get in the way of 'how the game is played', you don't bring your passion to the table. Whoa, does that make for flat games.
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Jasper
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Posts: 466


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« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2005, 03:32:04 PM »

Some kind of introductory message is probably better than nothing, even a "Be patient, people may take a while to get back to you. If you ask more specific questions, that might help" kind of thing.  But I don't know if the comparison with actual RPing is very helpful. Sure, in both cases you have some ego on the line, but here we're talking about doing something -- designing a game -- usually in a slow, measured way. Plus, there's an enormous archive. Which, while daunting, is always accessible and thus puts some onus on the new person to attempt assimilating that "vibe" before they jump in with both feet.
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Jasper McChesney
Primeval Games Press
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 3588


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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2005, 08:20:04 PM »

Hmmm, I'm really feel the opposite about the RP comparison. Take this for example:

I think the comparison with RP is very helpful.

Vs

I think the comparison with RP is very helpful, and I'm staking 8 of my very hard to get "This is important to me" points on it.

As for the idea were doing something here and in RP your not...that's kind of putting the horse before the cart, IMO. It's like saying someone who makes the canvas for a painting is doing something, while the painter who uses it is doing nothing.

Really, it's kind of ironic that the Forge forums while designing RPG's with startling innovations, uses the oldest of the old school systems to manage discussion. Yeah, it works...but why are we designing new RPG's if the old school ones are all we ever needed?

Call out to Clinton: I have no idea how to manipulate the code of a posting site. If I wanted to do it, so as to set up a board of my own that actually has a points system attached...do you have any links or something that would give me some clues?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
Jasper
Member

Posts: 466


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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2005, 04:31:46 AM »

If the RP metaphor works for you, then use it I guess. But for me, talking with people about their games isn't a lot different from talking with people about any creative project, or even projects in general, which is a pretty familiar situation. So in my case, the extra layer of an RP metaphor just clouds the issue.
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Jasper McChesney
Primeval Games Press
Troy_Costisick
Member

Posts: 802


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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2005, 09:14:30 AM »

Heya,

I htink Ron mentioned that he was building a database of posts on various subjects that will be used as tools to help newer members and designers.  So that might help.  What I'd also like to see is the terms in the Provisional Glossary expanded and hyperlinked to threads that discuss them.  That way it's more of a library than a dictionary. 

Peace,

-Troy
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