*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 23, 2022, 01:00:48 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 55 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??  (Read 9415 times)
Daniel B
Member

Posts: 171

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« on: November 14, 2008, 08:59:45 PM »

Hi folks,

this is a continuation of a topic brought up in "First Thoughts" but I'll repost the key points so you don't have to go hunting. I had posted a link to an article discussing issues to consider for game designers building MUDs or MMOGs more generally (multi-user dungeons, massively multiplayer online games). The article is at: http://www.mud.co.uk/richard/hcds.htm

The article suggests that there are four major categories for any given activity that a player can participate in, those categories being described as: Social, Explorer, Achiever, or Killer. The article also states that players can and do drift between the four categories from moment-to-moment, but tend to have a preferred mix, a playstyle that is composed of some proportion of the four categories.

I won't go into GNS here, since many of you know it and newbies will all have ample access to descriptions of it on this site. (That said, I find the "Search" function to be a pain. Try googling into the Forge for original source documents if you have trouble.)

I had posted that I believed there were strong parallels between GNS theory and Bartle's model. Objections stated that the two theories, GNS/Creative Agenda and Bartle's four-quadrant theory were essentially incompatible because the virtual world of MMOGs is generated by a computer, while the shared-imagined space of regular P&P RPGs must be co-generated by the players involved. Therefore, while a player can easily find aspects within an MMOG to satisfy him, this is not true of P&P RPGs. In such games, each player goes in with expectations of the other players of how they'll help to fulfill the ultimate purpose "having fun" and, if those expectations are not communicated ahead of time and agreed upon, the game will almost inevitably fail. In short, Bartle's categoizations are individual-centric while the Big Model, and therefore GNS, is group-centric, making Bartle's categorizations not so useful in P&P RPG analysis.

It seems to me that the objection basically reduces to the following. (Those who put forth the objection, please correct me if I've interpreted incorrectly !!!)
  • 1.) Big Model deals with a tiny player collective
  • 2.) Big Model implies GNS
  • 3.) Bartles deals with individiual players in a (virtually) limitless collective
  • Therefore Bartles is not similar to GNS

While I certainly agree that the reason most P&P RPGs fail (in practice) is because players come in with clashing creative agendas, I must disagree with the premises of the objections as they were given to me, on two counts.

Firstly, it seems to me that premise #2 is a bit backwards. You can't know what sort of possible group dynamics can exist until you first examine the individuals that go into a group. For example, the "Gamist" style wouldn't exist if human beings were incapable of caring about competition, and yet the "Big Model" would still stand, somewhat, because the goals of someone with a Simulationist-oriented agenda would be different than the goals of someone with a Narrativist-oriented agenda. (This example is extreme, but I hope it makes my point.) I therefore think that the Big Theory does not imply GNS, but rather the Big Theory must be built on TOP of the GNS.

Secondly, IF we accept that GNS is separate from the Big Theory, it becomes strictly an individual-centric theory and therefore can be analyzed in exactly the same regard that one would analyze Bartle's.

I had expressed my analysis in the first article, but I'll repost my analysis here since (I'm hoping) you'll see why I believe GNS and Bartle's are interchangeable within the Big Theory. Since GNS deals with players strictly in a small-scale (ie limited-players) environment, the actions of an individual player are necessarily influenced and homogenized by the group, either verbally, through their actions, or their verbal and nonverbal communications.

Bartle's, on the other hand, approaches it from the opposite perspective. Players are placed into an environment where they are free to choose whatever play-style they prefer, and are almost completely uninfluenced by the playstyle of others. So I think the player categories here are purer, as in, closer to the way people actually play.

Incidentally, I do not believe that CRPGs are significantly different from gamist- or simulationist-style P&P RPGs. What is the computer server, if not a dumb, inflexible GM? What is a virtual world if not a Shared-Imagined Space? (That ogre is not an ogre, it's a collection of bits on a server. Yet, it still can evoke the same emotional reaction as the ogre you dreamed up with your D&D buddies.) Therefore, one ought to be able to talk about MMOGs in all the same contexts as P&P RPGs that heavily favour the gamist/simulationist styles of play.

Just my opinions,
Shallow Thoughts
Logged

Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
soundmasterj
Member

Posts: 120

Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2008, 02:51:46 AM »

Logged

Jona
Daniel B
Member

Posts: 171

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2008, 05:58:36 AM »

Please don't interpret my posts as confrontational. (When I write them, the voice in my head is matter-of-factly.)

An SIS is created from two necessary components: two or more imaginations (the sources) and a means of communicating these imaginings. It's just that, in the case of computer games, the designers do all the imagining up front and let the computer do the communicating later. Even when you are alone at home on your computer, you see that manipulation of pixels on your screen and think "ogre". The designer's imagination is being shared with you. When you imagine your character wielding your axe against that ogre, you communicate it with the mouse and keyboard, and therefore are sharing your imagination with them. Electronic virtual worlds are a very narrowly defined subset of SIS's, but they are SIS's nonetheless unless the definition of SIS.


  • I don't like to discuss "right" or "wrong" theories of game design, only ones that are more or less likely to produce a fulfilling game experience, which may depend on your audience.
  • You first divvy up servers into GNS categories, before asking if the HCDS categories can help you. This is not a constructive way of examining a theory on it's own terms.
  • Bartle's article was written strictly about MMOGs. Therefore, he can't be "wrong about P&P" here because the article puts forth no opinion on the subject. (I'll start refering to them as the Hearts/Clubs/Diamonds/Spades or HCDS categories for this sake)
  • I brought the article here of my own volition, despite the fact that it was written about MMOGs and not P&P's, because of the parallels I see. If you don't see them, you're perfectly within your rights to totally disregard everything I say.
  • I never claimed the article is "right". My exact wording was that the HCDS categories were purer than GNS.

  • I can see how that last one may have aroused ire. Let me be clear: I think that if we're going to go about categorizing something, we ought to try and make it so our categories are mutually exclusive, for the sake of ease-of-use and clarity. This is not always possible (e.g. spork = fork or spoon???). I would argue that the GNS categories, while somewhat distinct, are not as mutually exclusive as the HCDS.

    For example: stabbing an orc with your longsword. What type of activity is that? Gamist? (I wanna rack up XP!) Narrativist? ("Bob the Barbarian, aware that the race of orcs are prone to kill without provocation or mercy, lunges!") By the HCDS categories, the action is very clearly an achiever-type action, because the player's character is acting upon the game universe, although the player himself need not be an achiever-type player (and may in fact prefer a style of play that is very, very different usually). Again, I am not trying to say HCDS is "better" than GNS.

    Soundmasterj, you also mentioned that you disagreed with my application of HCDS to P&P because in order for there to be world-interaction, there must first be people-interaction. Hmm, does that also mean that, for me to imagine that the hero of an action movie is battling an alien, I must first have a solid real-life emotional relationship with the actor who portrays the hero? No; typically I only have an emotional "relationship" with the character. The two are distinctly different.

    The "player-interaction" referred to in the HCDS article is strictly in regards to real human-emotional contact. Asking the GM if he's heard about that new alien movie is an example of this type of interaction out-of-game, and asking an ogre (played by the GM) whether it's possible not to eat you (in character) is an in-game example. However, asking the GM whether a tree in the world is a pine or an elm would be world-interaction. Sure, you need to actually TALK to a human being to decide if the SIS contains a pine tree, but the character is imagined to be physically examining the tree, so the inter-player communication is incidental.

    Bartles terminology helps us further distinguish gam and sim play into subcategories;
    <snip snip>

    Well .. the chicken and the egg. Does HCDS further distinguish GNS, or visa versa? You can fit one into the other with some twists, but a better question is, which is more productive? I refer back to my argument on clear categorization.


    I'll sincerely be glad to read and think about your rebuttal, Soundmasterj. I hope you can do the same without prejudice.




    Logged

    Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
    Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
    Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #3 on: November 15, 2008, 06:32:43 AM »

    Hey guys,

    First, let me be the primary overseer of intellectual discipline and respect.

    Second, this forum is called actual play for a reason. Please ground your points in discussions of what has really happened in a game of yours. Otherwise things will degenerate.

    To be clear about what that means, I am not talking about case-studies for evidence, but for clarity of what you're describing.

    Best, Ron
    Logged
    soundmasterj
    Member

    Posts: 120

    Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


    « Reply #4 on: November 15, 2008, 07:13:46 AM »

    quote]When I write them, the voice in my head is matter-of-factly
    Logged

    Jona
    soundmasterj
    Member

    Posts: 120

    Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


    « Reply #5 on: November 15, 2008, 07:33:38 AM »

    i]something<
    Logged

    Jona
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #6 on: November 15, 2008, 08:15:23 AM »

    Hiya,

    I am talking about your actual play. When you make a statement about, for instance, what the SIS is or how it's produced, or when you draw a conclusion based on how the MMORPG thing is or isn't like it, then no one will be able to understand unless you describe what (again for instance) an SIS is for you, in your experience, with all the trimmings - system, events in the fiction, real people doing what, the works. Long experience shows that without that information, these conversations are hopeless.

    I've found that if a person's point is understood and appreciated, and if he or she sees that this is happening, then the ideas can be subjected to extraordinary critique. Let's do that and have no more talk about who understood whom to have said what in such-and-such a way.

    "Shallow Thoughts," it's not required, but it would be extremely helpful if we knew your first name. Soundmasterj's name is Jona.

    Best, Ron
    Logged
    jag
    Member

    Posts: 75


    « Reply #7 on: November 15, 2008, 10:37:38 AM »

    I'm glad this topic was brought up.  Although i haven't played the newer generation MMORPGs, i spent an embarrassingly large portion of my teenage years playing and administering a MUD, and that has left indelible marks on my P&P RPG design process.  I think MUDs/etc actually provide a very interesting lens with which to view P&P RPGs, and that we can learn much from them.

    However, I'm unclear as to what the actual questions are.  I'm going to paraphrase what i think might be the questions and what might not be the questions, and ShallowThoughts -- as the originator and thus director of the thread -- please tell me if I have it right or not.

    First, the "not question".  I don't think anyone is really disagreeing on the SIS as applied to P&P and MUDs, they are just disagreeing on terminology.  In the P&P world, the SIS is a set of facts that all participants agree on.  In order for play to continue functionally, these need to include the resolutions to conflicts, and other quantitative matters.  They never include all possible colour, since my mental image of the ogre will be somewhat different than yours.  A given game might fall anywhere in between these two extremes, and is negotiated (implicitly or explicitly) amongst the small group of participants involved.  In the MUD world, the computer decides on all quantitative matters (with possible input from admins/gods), and gives you a basis for much of the colour that you can accept or reject as you wish.  If you all agree, I'd like to declare this as a Common Starting Position, and not confuse the other important issues by arguing whether the first S in SIS applies to the MUD world.

    My understanding of the question is as follows:  HCDS is a classification scheme designed for players in MUDs.  The Big Model is a theory of P&P RPGs, which includes in it a classification scheme of Creative Agendas.  Creative Agendas are a purpose of play coupled with coherent reinforcements of that purpose, and after some years of wrangling it was felt that there were three distinct CAs, Gamism, Simulationism, and Narrativism.  Coherent modes of P&P play can be described in terms GNS; can HCDS be taken from the MUD world and also be applied to P&P play?  If so, are these two categorizations equivalent, in the sense that any situation described in one framework can be described in the other?

    If this is the question, then i have things to say and examples to give.  If this isn't the question, could you succinctly write what is the question?

    Thanks,
    James
    Logged
    Daniel B
    Member

    Posts: 171

    Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


    « Reply #8 on: November 15, 2008, 04:06:56 PM »

    Hi there,

    name's Dan.

    Coherent modes of P&P play can be described in terms GNS; can HCDS be taken from the MUD world and also be applied to P&P play?  If so, are these two categorizations equivalent, in the sense that any situation described in one framework can be described in the other?

    Actually James, your whole post is spot on and I'd love to hear your thoughts on these questions.


    Jona, on SIS's.. I think we may be disagreeing because you seem to require that "bi-directional" sharing in your definition of the term SIS, i.e. I think you're saying that it's not sharing unless both participants share with each other. However, consider this: where did Spiderman come from? You didn't invent him, certainly. You don't need friends over to think "Gee, I sure hope he doesn't die and gets Mary Jane in the end". The writer or director of the movie is sharing the imaginary characters he invented with you. Granted, you can't share anything with the writer/director (except your money, possibly), but that doesn't stop it from being a shared, imaginary space.

    As for games like WoW, again, the game-authors are sharing their imagination with you, unidirectionally. They decided that if an ogre reaches 0 HP, it dies in the context of the game. You don't need anyone else to agree that the ogre you just killed is in fact dead ... because someone at Blizzard already made that decision for you. The computer is there to enforce these SIS rules.

    Asking where's the place for Narrativism in an MMORPG is, again, effectively trying to reduce HCDS into GNS terms, but trying to cram one terminology into the other doesn't help much. The only reason I drew parallels between GNS and HCDS in the first place was to try and demonstrate that GNS is a bit lacking in describing the total set of player goals. You see, while I can describe GNS in terms of HCDS, not all player activities that can be described within HCDS are capable of being described in GNS. Furthermore, actions have a clear placement on the HCDS axes, but cannot easily be placed within any one GNS category and often fit into two or all three.

    An actual play example; one member of the group (with whom I do not play anymore) got his thrills by taking goods off my dead-but-could-come-back-soon corpse. (He stole my precious ring of invisibility, and our cleric could raise me!! GRR!) This is a case of mismatched expectations of gameplay, but in particular, "Killer" (or "Club") behaviour of the HCDS. You might squeeze this type of behaviour into gamism, possibly simulationism, or maybe even with a stretch of the imagination, narrativism, but the fit is ambiguous (and for me, the ambiguity is uncomfortable .. why make up categories if they don't categorize?)

    A related example, this same friend regularly ignored the requests of another buddy of mine to allow for social encounters by rushing into combat. (I remember one case in particular, when orcs were sitting around a campfire just talking and eating rabbit. The DM was a bit pissed off too, because he had thought we would try and discover their motives first, and learn they were on the good side.) More to the point, this person seemed to actively enjoy rushing into combat precisely because it pissed off my other buddy. This sort of behaviour could be labelled as gamism, but I don't believe this label gets to the heart of the motivation of the player.


    Ta,
    Dan aka Shallow Thoughts
    Logged

    Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
    Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
    Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #9 on: November 15, 2008, 05:11:30 PM »

    Hiya,

    Here's some GNS talk: Spider-Man doesn't have anything to do with the theory-topic here. In the earlier thread, I specified shared imagined, not imaginary space. By "imagined," I mean that fictional imagery and events are being actively produced, not merely received, and by "shared," I mean that they are occurring as communication. It's not enough to imagine, one must verbalize it, and that verbalization must be received and importantly acknowledged (reinforced) as such. That's the medium of role-playing (as discussed here).

    People watching a movie together are not involved in an SIS. People who've read the same comic are not involved in an SIS. Even one person reading a story to another isn't an SIS. Only people actively producing imagined material, describing it, and using what they hear from one another to produce and describe more, create the circumstances of the hobby we're talking about. (I'll acknowledge that "type" and "read" could be substituted for on-line play, although to me it's like eating an apple through a paper bag.) Your interpretation of the term is not matching what I'm talking about in my essays or the body of theory formed here; you're describing fiction of any kind, whereas that term was invented to describe a unique medium for fiction. Jona's got it exactly right.

    (As a side point, this is not to mean that anyone can't call boffer LARP or MMORPG "role-playing" if they want to. Of course they can; "role-playing" is a legacy term with no definition. But the actual thing being so labeled is a different thing, in terms of raw substance.)

    You're also committing the extremely common error of thinking that the concept of Creative Agenda (the three terms) is somehow supposed to produce an entire taxonomy of play and players, all by itself. It's not. I may be wrong, but it is possible that you have read "System Does Matter," but not the other essays. If that's the case, then I recommend the first two pages of the Provisional Glossary, which includes seven terms and a diagram - the only material at the Forge which was written to be introductory, actually. I think you'll see that the behaviors you're describing fall quite nicely into various slots of what's called the Big Model, of which Creative Agenda is an important, but certainly not the only part.

    That's also why there's no point in identifying all those things in the MMORPG article that aren't Creative Agenda. Of course they aren't; they're other things, also part of play, and it's no big deal.

    Best, Ron

    Logged
    soundmasterj
    Member

    Posts: 120

    Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


    « Reply #10 on: November 15, 2008, 05:15:27 PM »

    quote]Shared Imagined Space (SIS, Shared Imagination)
    The fictional content of play as it is established among participants through role-playing interactions. See also Transcript (which is a summary of the SIS after play) and Exploration (a near or total synonym).Quote
    Asking where's the place for Narrativism in an MMORPG is, again, effectively trying to reduce HCDS into GNS terms, but trying to cram one terminology into the other doesn't help much.Quote
    Asking where's the place for Narrativism in an MMORPG is, again, effectively trying to reduce HCDS into GNS terms, but trying to cram one terminology into the other doesn't help much.
    Logged

    Jona
    Ron Edwards
    Global Moderator
    Member
    *
    Posts: 16490


    WWW
    « Reply #11 on: November 15, 2008, 05:21:44 PM »

    This nightmarish thread provides some previous discussion on this topic, as it's been revisited many times over the years: [D&D 3.5] Gamist Non-Affirmation. What I'm talking about is on page 5, in Bjorn's comment and my detailed response; it speaks directly to the larger topic of this thread.

    Also, a frequent poster here, Christopher Kubasik, has spent a long time examining Narrativism in MMORPGs from inside that industry - whether it's there, what it is if it's there, who's interesting in developing it there, and so on. He might weigh into this thread sooner or later.

    Finally, I do not want to dogpile you, Dan. I think it's a good topic and an important point. I'm open to back-and-forth; my posts are not a slapdown.

    Best, Ron
    Logged
    soundmasterj
    Member

    Posts: 120

    Must... resist... urge to talk GNS...


    « Reply #12 on: November 15, 2008, 05:36:10 PM »

    Logged

    Jona
    Callan S.
    Member

    Posts: 3588


    WWW
    « Reply #13 on: November 15, 2008, 10:47:30 PM »

    I think in terms of gamism, the whole SIS thing is just a distraction. Doesn't need an SIS, don't need to talk about it. And I think the same goes for naratavism. SIS is just a technique. A sexy technique! But just a technique.

    Or not. Perhaps I'm wrong, but I'm suggesting the whole SIS talk is a distraction.

    Unless were talking simulationism...I'm not so certain there.

    Though really HCDS strikes me as one step short - it describes deeds, and not the desire behind that deed. It's like saying someone who drinks a glass of water is a water drinker. Someone who kills your character is a killer? No, it was just a deed. It doesn't really say what spawned that deed.
    Logged

    Philosopher Gamer
    <meaning></meaning>
    Daniel B
    Member

    Posts: 171

    Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


    « Reply #14 on: November 16, 2008, 02:21:44 AM »

    Wow,

    oooookay .. meh, I'm wrong then. Ron was correct in thinking I'd only read "System Does Matter" and not the other introductory articles. (I've been wandering haphazardly through the site.) Think I'll go lurk for a while and read it all at my leisure.

    Callan .. speaking of reading articles, "Killer" is just a convenient name. In fact the category refers to any type of action where you're pushing yourself upon other real-life people, or acting upon them as opposed to interacting. This may be as tame as being an in-game vendor, or simply being a jerk by giving people unwanted attention. However, given how oriented these games are towards combat, the term "Killer" seems to describe the largest number of people who favour this kind of behaviour.

    Dan
    Logged

    Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
    Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
    Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
    Pages: [1] 2 3
    Print
    Jump to:  

    Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
    Oxygen design by Bloc
    Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!