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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 94 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Evaluating aesthetics i a competetion  (Read 7162 times)
frikardellen
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« on: November 02, 2005, 04:32:22 AM »

Hi everyone

I have an idea for a game which in gns-terms is a gamist-narrativist hybrid in that order. What i am trying to do is make the aesthetic contribution by the players (in relation to the given genre) object of a competition. So far unsuccessfully. A solution that i have thought about is having an audience judge the players performance, but this solution changes my game-concept radically. I am therefore looking for a way to make aesthetics objective. Objective in the sense that its not just a matter of whoever is judging´s opinion, but rather something independent of the judging person. Does anyone have any experience with this sort of problem? Any games out there who deal with this?

/Jonas Ellemand
My first post at the forge; sorry about the bad English
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Matt Machell
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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2005, 05:07:22 AM »

Hi, and welcome!

I guess your first step is defining what kind of "aesthetic contribution" is to be rewarded. Do you mean purely cosmetic additions ("genre tropes") or thematically charged ("meaningful") ones? You then need to go about defining those "rewarded contributions" within the context of the game and what kind of reward you give for them.

For an example of a game that manages to be competitive, whilst also being about fulfilling genre expectations, then see if you can find a copy of Robin D. Laws, Pantheon and other RPGs. The system basically is each player takes a turn to add to the story, players can challenge attempts to write their character out. At the end of the story, players get points based on what genre expectations they fulfilled (but what those are is hidden 'til after the game).

-Matt
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Roger
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2005, 09:25:03 AM »

The objective evaluation of aesthetics is likely to be an intractable problem.  By all means, give it a shot if you like, but only with the realization that some of the best minds of the last couple thousand years have also tried, and, by most accounts, failed.

I'd therefore be inclined to design around it.  The two approaches which immediately leap to my mind are:

1) Every player votes.  Lots of room here to experiment with different voting systems and mechanics.

2) GM fiat.  Flat-out dictatorship.  The GM picks the winner on whatever merits he or she may see.


(I'll also note that, if you want to discuss this issue in the context of a specific game you're working on, the thread might find a better fit over in Indie Game Design.)


Cheers,
Roger
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2005, 11:02:01 PM »

Hi Jonas, Welcome to the forge!

What's the goal of the competition? To shape up players who just don't try to give good aesthetics? Or to make players who gave aesthetic they themselves really like and want to show others, to change their ways?
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Philosopher Gamer
<meaning></meaning>
frikardellen
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2005, 08:04:36 AM »

To start with Matt & Callan: The aesthetics are cosmetic. They are supposed to express the games genre, and the competitive element is there to get everyone to give it their best shot.

To Roger: I am not looking for the True definition or essence of aesthetics, but a way to reward the contribution best expressing a genre within the context of a game. I don't believe that its the same question, although the subjects are related.
The vote-option was what i hinted at with audience-proposal.

Question for Matt (or anyone else who knows about Pantheon): How do players receive points for expressing the genre?

/Jonas
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TonyLB
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2005, 08:24:22 AM »

I am therefore looking for a way to make aesthetics objective. Objective in the sense that its not just a matter of whoever is judging´s opinion, but rather something independent of the judging person.
My brain is running in little circles, like a 1950's sci-fi robot, crying "Error!  Error!"  I don't think "aesthetics" and "objective" are going to find a common point, but perhaps you can explain how they could and why you want them to?

I suspect that what you're actually concerned about is that if the system is competitive and subjective then the players will never have any motivation to judge others favorably.  They'll all be like the East German judge in the iron-curtain era olympics.  There are, however, ways of getting around that, if you're interested.

Quote
Does anyone have any experience with this sort of problem? Any games out there who deal with this?
If we're talking about competing for subjective aesthetic judgment then this is the core engine of Capes.  You get Story Tokens because you engaged someone on an aesthetic/emotional level.
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Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
frikardellen
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Posts: 7


« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2005, 09:13:31 AM »

Tony: ...perhaps you can explain how they could and why you want them to?

Hmmm... objective might not have been the best word for it. What i am looking for is some kind of principle which can be related to aesthetic contribution to the shared imaginary space. In the practical application of this relation there will be an element of interpretation, but my hope is that it can be less arbitrary than "because i think its better". I want something more than Rogers gm-fiat.
I want this principle because my game-concept involves an endgame-position with a winner appointed by a single participant.

/Jonas
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TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2005, 09:30:51 AM »

So what's the genre you're trying to emulate?  How does it make people feel when it's done right?  Figure out what the players will do when they feel that way, and make a mechanic that means that by doing that they reward the person who made them feel that way, and you're done.

Examples:
  • Toon has a rule that if the GM cannot continue because he's laughing so hard at something a player said, then all the players get a free action.  When the GM feels the emotion of amusement the players get rewarded for having caused it.
  • Capes rewards players who make their fellow players object strenuously.  Straight up, when another player gets angry, or affronted, or determined enough to pull out all the stops in order to thwart you, you get rewarded in proportion to the resources they poured into beating you.  When the player feels the emotion of disagreement and contention, other players get rewarded for having caused it.
So what feeling are you driving for?
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Just published: Capes
New Project:  Misery Bubblegum
Matt Machell
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2005, 02:20:09 PM »

Question for Matt (or anyone else who knows about Pantheon): How do players receive points for expressing the genre?

Each scenario has a fairly obvious genre. There's a sheet of things you can do to get points, a whole bunch of things. It's kept hidden 'til the end of the game, so if you're playing fresh, nobody can know what the conditions are except from guesswork based on the scenario. Some things are worth more points, the aim is to get the most points. For example one scenario is a criminal caper. So you might get points for killing a character to get the money, betraying an ally, or somesuch. Since you don't know what these conditions are, you're constantly driving to put your character in situations that seem genre-appropriate in the hope that they're the right ones to get points.

-Matt
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Callan S.
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« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2005, 05:20:00 PM »

To start with Matt & Callan: The aesthetics are cosmetic. They are supposed to express the games genre, and the competitive element is there to get everyone to give it their best shot.
Years ago I wrote a small sort of gamist RPG, when I came to a conclusion that the right answer wasn't so important, as there having been effort in making it.

You might be able to use that here. In the game, there was no judgement of the plan. However, there were random props and NPC's rolled up. The more of these you used, the more points you got. It was GM'less, so I got to play too and I TELL you, it's hard to combine all these things into one plan.

For aesthetics, you could have the same thing. Have a list of genre specific props or concepts. You roll up a handful and the player gets points for each one he uses. To get those points he will give it his best shot to include them in an aesthetic contribution.

Though I'm slightly worried that by best shot you might mean something that really just meets your genre expectations as GM, rather than being something the player put effort/investment in. How would you feel if the player clearly put in alot of effort, but produces something which is somewhat outside of how you'd like the genre presented? I hope I'm wrong, but I had to ask! :)
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Philosopher Gamer
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frikardellen
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2005, 04:56:46 AM »

Quote
From Callan S:
Though I'm slightly worried that by best shot you might mean something that really just meets your genre expectations as GM, rather than being something the player put effort/investment in.

Hmm... this seem to be a intractable problem with the "list of concepts known to the players in advance"-approach. When i say problem its because i don't want my genre-expectations to be the core of the competition. I suppose that kind of game would be some sort of celebration of the authors deep insights into the given genre. And that's not really what i want.

I´ll be posting in the indie game design forum in a while because i do believe i have ideas that can facilitate my concept but that discussion is more meaningfull in relation to the game. This discussion has been pointing that direction for a while anyway.

/Jonas
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