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The art of Zen, Tao, and the Matrix

Started by Ian Mclean, August 08, 2006, 12:40:25 AM

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Ian Mclean

 Alright, I have my own first thoughts about a game, but for now that is not what I am going to post here, yet. I was looking to make a note for the Author of "GNS and other matters of roleplaying".

I noted that in your beginning definition, you share a similar meta-analysis as that of a comic artist by the name of Scott McCloud. He created the work called "Understanding comics".

Now I like to think of games, systems, and life as frameworks that produce art. This has many places, and is non-trivial. I myself am an avid gamer of many frames, and a scientist. Most of all I am one who believes in unity.

Anyway, my mention of "Understanding Comics" in regard to "GNS and the Other Matters of Roleplaying" is this. You prominently bring out six concepts, well defined. Premise, Character, System, Setting, Situation, and Color. Which mesh well with Scott McCloud's own six steps of art, which are, in same order: Idea/Purpose, Form, Idiom, Structure, Craft, and Surface. Where as his is more towards abstraction, as a general template, yours becomes a more specific implementation, given the area of artistic expression

I would highly suggest the book, and would refer you to Chapter Seven: The Six Steps.

**************************************************************************************************************

Now a teaser of my own concept for a game. I love games. On many levels and across diverse berth of interests. So my design comes as a synthesis of many accumilated concepts across many fields, not simply limited to gaming. I am a scientist by nature, and have a decent grasp of psychology, philosophy, and spiritualism/religion.

My concept is to focus on the explorer in my frame, which is delegated to the form of the art, which is the character of the game, often enough for a one player to one character frame.

I identify and define five areas of being. Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, and Spiritual. Which correspond to five areas of belief/magic. Technica, Arcana, Psiona, Divina, and Incarna, further we have another five concepts which link nicely together, that being of the fundamental elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.

The setting has some meta-rules which are defined, one of which is that belief defines the world. Each concept has an anti-concept and which are simply different sides of the same coin. Duality, yin-yang, are centrally oriented in my particular design. Taking together seemingly opposing reflections and uniting them into the same factual concept.

I have read through to the sixth chapter of the afforementioned essay, but am still digesting the information. I look forward to discussion in the future.

David Artman

Welcome to The Forge! What can we call you, other than Mr. Clown?

Not sure what you are asking about, in this thread, but I would suggest you look into the games Mage and, perhaps, Amber. Both games tackle the "paradigm shifting" nature of magic/power, including ideas about scope/elements; and they might provide you with inspiration as to how to build up your project from its nascent notions.

A quick question of my own: why isn't Mental associated to Arcana; and Emotional, to Psiona? I've always understood "arcane" to mean something like "hard to understand" (sounds mental, no?); and I am inclined to think psionics would be emotionally driven, not something one employs logically or thoughtfully. Why did you associate them the other way?

David
Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages

Ian Mclean

 Thanks for the feed back, the first portion of my first post is ment for Ron, and is simply an interesting note that perhaps has something worth looking at. I, myself, am examining it for possible merits and insights.

As for Mage, I have looked into it, and oddily enough I did so only after I had developed core concepts to my own cosmology.

As much as I enjoy the Mage system, there are a few major issues with it, as I am sure you have noticed. One of which is that the sphere magick is exclusive to these creatures called mages. In my cosmology, wheather one knows it or not, one's beliefs shape their local reality. Doom and gloomers actually shift the enviroment towards their outlook.

So a place that one hangs around a lot, and believes one way or the other, will become more acclimated, and nuturing of one's outlook.

Very similar, sure, of mage. The major difference is it's not unique to these few, it's just subtle and unnoticed by most. Those who grasp it's form and learn to consciously control their beliefs earn the titles like "mage", "shaman", "priest", "psychic", and "scientist".

Oh, as for arcana corresponding to emotion comes from that, in arcane "magic" what matters most is one's willpower. Where as in psionic "magic" what matters most is one's focus. Willpower is a matter of emotion, in my view, and focus is a matter of thought.

Though I understand the confusion. Classifying these things took much concideration. The important thing to realize though, is that these classifications are merely convient fictions. In the end they all derive from the main theme, belief. They are simply fetish concepts for belief, places where factions argue over the origin.

"No, TRUE power comes from the mind, not the heart!" says the psychic.
"Blasphemour! One has not power, except that which is earned through faith in the almighty!" says the priest.
"Fools, you are both wrong. I wield the powers gifted to me through supierior will." says the mage.
"Magic? Outdated, and out of mode. Science made the atom bomb, can you say the same for your petty rites?" says the scientist.
"All who are so blind to the strength of one within the self. All power is that of the soul." says the shaman.

I hope that helps to illuminate the reasoning behind the classifications.

As to what I maybe called? Depends on your view. KAC is the common diminutive. Though, Clown, Kick or Kicky are also common. Your choice really.

Ian Mclean

Here's some elements of the game, which are important to me.

First is the adjustability of the character. The character is key in my eyes.

I want the system to encourage character depth. So to do that, I want the system to encourage tweaking of the character, but not for the sake of tweaking. I want to be able to hand someone my character's sheet and have them understand within a few moments  who my character is.

I like heros, but the system is to... tangled and to abstract. Gives the player to much to think about, and drops to much of the power and responsibility into the lap of the GM.

I want to design a game which will enourage player oriented mediation. As much as possible I want mediation by an "authority" out. Impartials should be nessessary only in extreame cases, in the general the players should be able to sort out a scene. This means the system should encourage inter-player co-opperation. The players become co-creators of the world. The system should layout the ground work, a well defined set of checks, and balances. More important it should give a measuring stick, a percise one so that a character's overall efficiency as a statistics engine can be carefully measured and weight.

It's probably apparent that I hold an interest in the character and the system most of all. However this is for consistency. If the system is unbalanced, then inevitablely the characters made from the system will be unbalanced. (inconsistent too.) I have a setting in mind, but my focus is on the characters (the form of my art).

The way I have presented this may bring to mind a larp type game, and that would be accurate. I am indeed designing this with either a computer or live action bend in mind.

I want to build the resolution engine of the game based upon actions taken. Something like a karma system. Like paradox for mage, but which applies to everything and will, if to much is attempted, cause inevitable failure in a future task unless you rest or otherwise discharge your accumilated karma. Cause and effect, action and reaction. Consequence for actions taken or not taken

I was thinking of a dharma type system as well. If your a good guy, say you have an alignment for instance, then performing a darker action should be harder for you and like-wise. Expecially if you get called on it. I was thinking of a nature, alignment, virtue and vice type system for that aspect of the characters. Your character can change these of course, though it should be slow and difficult, fraught with Roleplaying oppertunities. I'm thinking these values would be effectiveness that influence meta resources

The underlying theme of the game would be greater awareness. Exploration of what it means to be a ???. Probably bent towards immersion. With a personal focus. I want the focus where it should be, on the individuals who build the world around themselves.

dindenver

Hi!
  OK, a few comments.
  First, to capture a real sort of player authored system with a GM, maybe check out donjon. Basically, players add a fact  to the game world and then roll to see if its true...
  Second, I think sleeping off karma is a bad  idea...
  Third, I think you should center the alignment system around what the game is about. For instance, if the game is about being a hero, There probably needs to be a Patience Virtue. But there does not need to ba a Wrath Vice. Instead, when a char is Patient, that virtue goes up, when they are wrathful, it goes down. Otherwise it remains unchanged.
  Finally, I think you really want to pick a platform (i.e., Computer, larp, Tabletop, etc) quickly. The design goals, philosophies and techniques are vastly different between both. Think about it, in CRPGs, you can layer on the complexity without fear or concern, because the computer manages it all. In larps, you don't want to bust out a char sheet and do complex math whenever your char wants to do something...
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo

Ian Mclean

 Once more thank you for the comments.

First off, it is a mistake to think that a computer game system should be complex. Occam's razor applies to computers just as much as it applies to table tops and larps.

Complexity can be a good thing, but for the most part it creates bugs and uses up unnessessary clock cycles, resulting in a slow game. My design philosophy applies to computer or larp. Table top has a decidedly different feel to it.

I figure I should design the system for larp resolution, and then if I decide to port it over, it should be kept in mind that the design should be concistent enough to allow for it.

Why is it that you think sleeping off karma is bad?

***************************************************************************************************************************************************

Alright so the five areas of character influence have been identified, for direct world interaction. The difficulty arises in a measure of the character's indirect world interaction capabilities. I am unsure what kind of score I want to reflect that facet, or even if I want it to be reflected in a score.

An important aspect of characters, to me, is growth. Not nessessarily postive growth either. This is one area where I think many games fail because the potential for growth is mono-directional. the result is that the character only gains ground and eventually improves beyond the scope of reasonable conflict. Hence D&D's Epic characters, WOD's post fives (Vampire Elders, Werewolf legends, Exalted imbued, Archmages, and so on.)

In reality growth is a matter of trade offs, with a slight gain. In the case of extreame circumstance one may experience larger gain. However the idea is to reflect struggle into the very concept of the game, without making it nigh-impossible to improve in a given area.

Choices. That is one thing which permeates all the way through. Choices are present in each place within the system and each choice has a consequence. Like life. Choices should challenge one's perceptions and broaden or focus one's awareness of themselves and their surroundings.

Sometimes two steps forward requires one step back.

Ian Mclean

 I am guessing one of two influences at the moment.

One is either A) I am not asking enough questions and giving to many percieved diffinitives. B) This is a slow forum and I am a moderately impatient person.

***************************************************************************************************************************************************
What are some resolution systems which require little in the way of overhead (IE cards), are portable, and can be delt without a surface (IE Dice). I was reading the FATE thread and I like the system, and was thinking of incorperating something like it.

For a player driven game it is nessessary to give power to the players to moderate scenes, and to influence the flow of events. I wish to avoid the bread and circuses clause of a democracy. Conflict is central to the game. So what are some ways to encourage players to interact, discourage unbalancing events, and still allow a story to be told, from many perspectives?

At this point I would like to assume it to be other than table top. As much as I enjoyed TT, I have grown weary of it and find that I quite enjoy the vivid aspect of person to person interaction via live action, first person narrative(?). So for now we can safely assume that the intended platform is LARP.

This brings about several requirements in my mind. It must be quick, easy to understand and capable of high resolution. In a word, effiencent.

In "understanding comics", I am in steps 1-3 (Idea, Form, Idiom, or in GNS: Premise, Character, System). Asking myself the question "Do I want to say something about life though my art?" or "Do I want to say something about art itself?". One is the tool user question and the other is the explorer/inventor question. Asking essentially if I want to use the game to make a statement, or if I want to make something to innovate the way games are looked at, used, and made.

It would seem to me, that if I focus on the character, my form, then I will be approaching from the explorer's view point. If I focus on the idea/purpose, then I will be approaching from the tool user's view point.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding_Comics

Sleepy time, I'm hoping for feedback.

dindenver

Hi!
  OK, on frequency of responses, there are two things going on:
1) You are not really posting easily identifiable issues you are having that need discussion
2) Most people check here about once a day

  And as to the nature of art, few people here will want/be able to discuss it, as that is a very personal/non-subjective topic. And, unltimately, no one here can answer it for you. To one person art is getting your message out to as many people as possible. I mean why bother having a message if no one sees it. And for others it might be getting through to the people that matter most with the purest form of your message. Neither is right, neither is wrong, they are just different.
  I wasn't saying CRPGS have to or even want to be more complicated. Just commenting that you can make them fairly complicated without negatively impacting gameplay. Look at KOTOR, its a very fun game. But it uses an almost unaltered version of the D20 Star Wars RPG. which is very complicated and has rules you could never even attempt in any sort of larp. What I was trying to say is, decide what you are designing for now, otherwise you might end up with wildly inappropriate or incompatible mechanics. Because you were operating under different assumtions as each is developed. It souds like you want to design for larp, and tht's great, just don;t lose site of that. For instance your proposed alignment system is proabaly not suited for a larp. One reason for that is that there is probably not an easy way to communicate all those values in a natural larp environment. And having all those values is great if those values DO something, which wold be hard to implement in a larp. I mean think of it practically, players do Rock/Paper/Scissors then some how communicate their virtues/vices and then determine who wins and by the time that is all done, they just want to sit down at a tabletop and role play there, rather than jump out of character so far as to compare char sheets, no? I could be wrong, I have no experience with larp'ing. But if  had to guess, I think I am right. You want to simplify the alignment system so that it can be communicated easily when needed and is not in the way at any other time.
  Finally, the idea of having a genuine karma system in your game is GREAT. But, if you can accumulate bad karma, then just sleep it off, there are several issues working in concert that make this idea bad:
1) By the very definition of karma, that is counterintuitive and wrong
2) From the stand point of mechanics, it drives you game in a very boring direction (Sleeping as part of game play)
3) It is a boring story element, who really wants to know how much your char is resting? Is that a gripping part of the shared story you want to tell?
  And ultimately, the characters having to take the knocks of bad karma in order to take advantage of the good karma is much more interesting and probably more fun. If you do want to have a mechanic that allows you to do a little more then rest it off, maybe call it effort or power or something that ties it into what the mechanc is doing more, you know?
  Anyays, it sounds like yo have the skeleton of a good game, I hope it fleshes out real well for you!
Dave M
Author of Legends of Lanasia RPG (Still in beta)
My blog
Free Demo

Ian Mclean

 Thanks.

A few misconceptions though. First off is I have no interest in a roh-sham-bo session. I've tried that out and it lacks in essential details. I have thrown far to many tests in WOD and had no idea what the outcome ment. I'm thinking cards will form the fortune portion of resolution. Alignment is supposed to form the basis of the resolution system. Rather than the D&D esq. style where your actions define you alignment in no real useful kinda way. Your alignement is re-enforced by limiting the kind of actions you can attempt and benefit from "fate". Fate is a fickled mistress that should not hesitate to put someone who professess to be a good guy back into line.

Hence your virtues and vices. These should determine, for you as the player of your character, clearly and definitely what kind of actions you can take and concider them moral or immoral. They are not values to compare against another player, but are purely for internal concistency of your character. Perhaps manifesting in the form of penalties or bonus for your character performing sympathetic or apathetic actions. If your character is Moral (good), and Compassionate (virtue) he/she should be less likely to perform Immoral (evil), Vengeful (vice) actions.

These values would be mutually exclusive and tied to it's duality. So if you become more immoral, then you lose the corresponding points in you morality score. They would be dials, I think the analogy is.

Now I would also like to award players for playing their alignment. In WOD and D&D there is no real advantage to playing a given alignment. In WOD there is no reason beyond personal interest in playing your path/alignment/morality/dharma.

Would an advantage in sympathetic resolution be enough, or would something like a resource reward (IE xp) be called for? I was thinking that performing nefarious deeds as a good guy would lead to the accumilation of something like Trouble or Paradox, and vice versa.

David Artman

I am not sure if it would help or confuse you, but there was a thread I was on years back in which we managed to hammer out a fast handling but highly granular resolution system for LARPs:
Randomizer Gimmicks

I think you could replace notions of "stats" or "attributes" in that thread with your notion of "alignment," and pretty much port it straight over. If nothing else, you will get a fairly good overview of the issues involved with resolution mechanics in LARPs that use randomizers.

HTH;
David
Designer - GLASS, Icehouse Games
Editor - Perfect, Passages

David Berg

Clown-

I too have a lot to say when discussing my game, and like getting large volumes of feedback quickly.  It's nice to see people interested in my ideas.  However, on this site, users are explicitly encouraged to take their time, re-read, and think carefully before posting, in order to facilitate an optimally productive flow of communication.  So, I'd recommend you try to get used to the slow-seeming pace, there are reasons for it.  (Similar logic applies to using real names as opposed to handles.)

Understanding Comics is a fantastic examination of artistic process, and I thank you for pointing out the parallel between McCloud's six steps and Edwards' six elements.  At this point, I still find Edwards' "Big Model" a little tough to keep track of, and this comparison may help me.

-David

P.S. In the future, if you want to address something directly to one person, you probably want to use the site's Private Message feature.
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

David Berg

I'm not a LARP guy, so my input may be useless.  Here goes, though:

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 08, 2006, 12:40:25 AM
I identify and define five areas of being. Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, and Spiritual. Which correspond to five areas of belief/magic. Technica, Arcana, Psiona, Divina, and Incarna, further we have another five concepts which link nicely together, that being of the fundamental elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit.
Quote from: KickAssClown on August 08, 2006, 07:14:27 PM
as for arcana corresponding to emotion comes from that, in arcane "magic" what matters most is one's willpower. Where as in psionic "magic" what matters most is one's focus. Willpower is a matter of emotion, in my view, and focus is a matter of thought.

I'd tie "area of being" to "attribute that matters most" directly instead of giving players so many game terms to think about.  Emotional Willpower, Mental Focus, etc.

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 08, 2006, 12:40:25 AM
Each concept has an anti-concept and which are simply different sides of the same coin.

Picking which concept-pairs you use will largely dictate how your game comes off.  Determining what is played is not about controlling the position within the discussion, it's about controlling the subject of the discussion.

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 08, 2006, 07:14:27 PM
In my cosmology, wheather one knows it or not, one's beliefs shape their local reality . . . it's just subtle and unnoticed by most.

Very cool concept.  You might want to put some time into creating some altered locales to illustrate this.  (If it's so subtle that the results are indistinguishable from our reality, then never mind -- but now your game is less unique.)

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 08, 2006, 07:14:27 PM
Those who grasp it's form and learn to consciously control their beliefs earn the titles like "mage", "shaman", "priest", "psychic", and "scientist".

"Control their beliefs"?  Like, "I will now proceed to believe X because it will help me achieve what I want"?  That's a bizarre kind of double-think that sounds (probably) incompatible with your (apparent) aesthetic preferences. 

If I've read you wrong and you do want double-think, I recommend you put some development work into the training process (or other method) that enables characters to operate this way.  E.g., an upbringing, school, or government program of hypnotism, brainwashing, activation and de-activation of social programming, neuralware, mystic trances, etc.

Or, by "control beliefs" do you mean:
1) have an awareness of the fact that belief deforms reality, or
2) have an awareness of how belief deforms reality

In either case, you need to figure out how this knowledge actually winds up imparting power, and what kind of power makes sense.

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 09, 2006, 08:04:58 AM
I want to design a game which will enourage player oriented mediation. As much as possible I want mediation by an "authority" out. Impartials should be nessessary only in extreame cases

In ultimate frisbee, the mediation goals are identical to yours.  Here's the model:
- Player 1 makes an assertion.  If unchallenged, this assertion grants him an advantage.
- Player 2 may contest Player 1's assertion.  In most cases, this challenge simply benefits Player 2 and simply penalizes Player 1.
- Decisions on making assertions and contesting other players' assertions are not supposed to be made purely for personal gain.  Everyone knows this.
- Assertions should be made if the player believes they are (a) true, (b) applicable in the specific context, (c) within the spirit of the activity.  Contesting an assertion should only be done if the contester thinks the assertion is (a) false, (b) not appropriate to the circumstances, (c) against the spirit of the game. 
- Players who repeatedly make assertions and contests that violate this order, operating instead for nothing but personal gain, are pushed out by the majority.  "You can't play with us anymore."

In a belief-based LARP, a system of:
"I think my character can do this!" 
"Well I think your character can't!"
might have potential.

Quote from: KickAssClown on August 09, 2006, 08:04:58 AM
The underlying theme of the game would be greater awareness.

A tough one to do well, but if "greater awareness" = power, aka "greater in-game effectiveness", then at least you've got a reason for players to pursue it...
here's my blog, discussing Delve, my game in development

Ian Mclean

 
Quote"Control their beliefs"?  Like, "I will now proceed to believe X because it will help me achieve what I want"?  That's a bizarre kind of double-think that sounds (probably) incompatible with your (apparent) aesthetic preferences.

If I've read you wrong and you do want double-think, I recommend you put some development work into the training process (or other method) that enables characters to operate this way.  E.g., an upbringing, school, or government program of hypnotism, brainwashing, activation and de-activation of social programming, neuralware, mystic trances, etc.

Or, by "control beliefs" do you mean:
1) have an awareness of the fact that belief deforms reality, or
2) have an awareness of how belief deforms reality

In either case, you need to figure out how this knowledge actually winds up imparting power, and what kind of power makes sense.

Alright, the former could be possible, but only of those who are truely flexible in being. Otherwise it comes down to what you can believe, completely. Sure I can say I believe I can fly, but meaning it is another thing. It takes time to believe things, and extra-ordinary claims require extra-ordinary evidence.  So, I would say that I mean the two given in the latter, rather than in the former. The areas of being are indeed the main stats, and the areas of "magic" are delimited by the main stats. I have played with the notion of making them totally derived, but I feel uncertain about that.

The elements is an affinity chart, What it would be dictated by, I do not yet know. The area of magic and the area of being are linked. I want to avoid the various problems of point-based exchange and all that. I think it's called Bean trading. The element is more likely to be a system similar to alignment, where the values are static and adjust dynamically based on your affinities. Say that the five are divided up amongst 100%, and so starting it's 20% to each area. If you gain greater affinity for one, you lose corresponding affinity for another. So taking base of 20%, and say you increase your affinity for fire by 5%, so another affinity (or two) drop by a corresponding 5% (In the case of two or more stats then you split the difference? 2% Air and 3% Water, or 1% and 4%), so the total is always 100%)

I am not sure if I want to include the Elemental affinity. I don't want to over complicate things.

I am looking to create a system for the main stats to easily, quickly and simply express three sub-areas of the stats. Strength, Finesse, Stamina. Which if simply divided out, would mean fiffiteen main stats, which seems like a little much to me, So I want to slim it down without losing the meta-resolution(The five areas of magic-being). It's essential to the setting which I want to place this into.

Alternate Ideas for sub-stats:
Force, Speed, Accuracy, Density, Energy

I'm kinda thinking the affinities could help to make something like what I am thinking. Where the affinity tells you, your ability to apply your self in one of three ways with your stats, perhaps? I was thinking that the affinities might setup like this:

Force        Fire      Plasma
Speed       Air       Gas
Accuracy  Water   Liquid
Density     Earth    Solid
Energy      Spirit    Condensate

So by defining your affinity you decide the maxium you can allocate in any one task of one of your five mains. Having stronger affinity for earth can make you harder to harm in your categories, reflecting an all around earthier nature. I don't know, what do you people think?