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Author Topic: Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory  (Read 54679 times)

RPGPundit

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« on: October 17, 2007, 02:05:28 PM »
For the purposes of this forum, which are not to philosophize about nonsensical theories pulled out from one's ass, there must be certain "Landmarks" that one can use, as the foundational basis by which one can establish what can be legitimate gaming theory and what is explicitly to be discounted.
A Landmark is a go/no-go test based on simple statements about the reality of RPGs as they apply to the mainstream of people playing them today!
If a theoretical proposition violates the Landmark, by suggesting that in some form or another RPGs as the vast majority of people understand or play them are currently wrong, said proposition is automatically illegitimate, with no debate. The landmarks are, in other words, an attempt at defining what the Gaming community is like and how it works.

Here are my "Landmarks of Gaming Theory":

1. The vast majority of gamers are having fun gaming.

2. The vast majority of gamers are satisfied with the majority of their game as it is played.

3. D&D is the model of what most people define as an RPG, and therefore also the model for a successfully-designed RPG. It can be improved upon or changed, but any theory that suggests that D&D as a whole (in any of its versions) was a "bad" RPG is by definition in violation of the Landmarks. You don't have to say it is the "best" RPG, but you are obviously not in touch with reality if your theory claims that D&D is a "bad" game, and then try to invent some convoluted conspiracy theory as to why millions of people play it anyways, more than any other RPG.

4. Given number 3 above, it is self-evident that games that have a broad spectrum of playstyles (as D&D does) are by definition successful games. Any theory that speculates that games must be narrowly-focused to be "good" games is automatically in violation of the Landmarks. Note that this doesn't mean that you must say narrow-focus games are "bad", or that narrow-focused games can't be considered appropriate, only that you cannot suggest that gamers don't want to play in RPGs that have a broad spectrum of playstyle, because they obviously do want to play exactly those kinds of games.

5. Conflicts do arise in gaming groups; these conflicts are usually the product of social interaction between the players and not a problem with the rules themselves. The solution to these problems is not to "Narrow the rules", but to broaden the playstyle of a group to accomodate what the complaining players are missing. Thus, it is a Landmark that all correct gaming theories, if they deal with "player dis-satisfaction" at all, must focus the nature of that dissatisfaction on the rules ONLY to suggest that a given rules-set is too narrow; and even then only because it is a symptom of an interpersonal social conflict within a group.

6. Given point #3, above, any gaming theory that suggest that the GM should get disproportionately more or less power than they do in D&D in order for a game to be "good" is inherently in violation of the Landmarks. The vast majority of players enjoy a game where the GM has power over the world and the players over their characters; and while a theory can suggest ways that GMs and Players can experiment with interactively creating the setting, it cannot suggest that the Players should have the power to tell the GM what to do (except for the "power" to walk away from a game).

7. Any gaming theory that tries to divide gamers into specific criteria of "types" must make it clear that this is only one kind of categorization, and not an absolutist and literal interpretation that is a universal truth; it is only one form of categorizing gamers.

8. Any theory that suggests, therefore, that its "types" are mutually exclusionary in gaming groups is in violation of the Landmarks. Individual people can end up being mutually exclusive to each other, unable to play in the same group, etc; but that is because of individual personal issues, not because of an issue of playstyle.

9. Any gaming theory that suggests that a significant element of what many players find entertaining is in fact a "delusion" or unreal, or that the gamers themselves don't know what they're doing or what they're thinking, or what they want from gaming, is in violation of the landmarks.

10. Given points #9 and #1, the suggestion that so-called "immersion" is not a real or viable goal in an RPG, or that "genre emulation" is not a viable priority in a game, is in violation of the Landmarks.

So there are my 10 Landmarks. That's it, fuckers, game over. From now on any future gaming theory should be designed with them in mind, and any existing or future gaming theory that is in violation of those landmarks should be instantly rejected as a product of a brain-damaged mind. The clear line in the sand has been marked, on the level.

So please do NOT come in here talking about GNS or other Forge theories as if those were acceptable theories or proven fact that everyone takes for granted. They do not. Especially here. In fact, here it is taken for granted, due to the miracle of common sense, that GNS and almost anything else that's come out of the Forge is utter bullshit, mental diarrea of the worst kind, and that there are turds floating in gutters with more claim to being viable gaming theories than GNS. This forum is an attempt at working with theory to actually do something productive, and to be quite possibly the only place on the entire net where you can talk about theory without having to pretend that GNS works or is real.


Feel free to try to design new theories, with the goal being that these theories actually be useful for making RPGs (or improving existing RPGs), but keep in mind that any theory that doesn't take common sense (and thus, the Landmarks as a guide to common sense) into account would probably be better suited to reality-free zones like the Forge.

Here, we actually LIKE reality.

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2007, 02:06:09 PM »
Note that I have been informed by my tech admins that the accidental deletion of the previous thread is impossible to undo. I'm very sorry to everyone who was involved in that excellent discussion.

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jrients

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2007, 02:28:23 PM »
I was the one who screwed up and accidentally deleted the thread.  Please accept my apologies.
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John Morrow

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2007, 02:33:45 PM »
Quote from: jrients
I was the one who screwed up and accidentally deleted the thread.  Please accept my apologies.

I was able to recover replies 1-99 and 101-108 from my Firefox cache as HTML files. If you want to give me an email address via IM, I can email them to you if you want to try to piece it back together or put them up somewhere. Not sure what happened to 100 but maybe someone else could recover that (the stuff in Firefox's cache includes the HTML files in gzip format).
« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 10:16:31 AM by John Morrow »
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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2007, 03:41:31 PM »
Quote from: John Morrow
I was able to recover replies 1-99 and 101-108 from my Firefox cache as HTML files.  If you want to give me an email address via IM, I can email them to you if you want to try to piece it back together or put them up somewhere.  Not sure what happened to 100 but maybe someone else could recover that (the stuff in Firefox's cache includes the HTML files in gzip format).


Please?  joewolz AT joewolz DOT com

I knew about the conversation, but never got a chance to read it :(
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John Morrow

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2007, 04:31:01 PM »
Quote from: joewolz
Please?  joewolz AT joewolz DOT com


Let's see if the admins want to put it up somewhere first.  If not, I'll email you a copy.
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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2007, 04:53:21 PM »
There isn't really an easy solution to it; I'm told by the tech mods that the only thing that could be done would be to copy and paste it into a few massive posts. I don't know if that's worth it or not...

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2007, 05:32:05 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit
There isn't really an easy solution to it; I'm told by the tech mods that the only thing that could be done would be to copy and paste it into a few massive posts. I don't know if that's worth it or not...


I think it would be worth it to recover a 100+ message thread that was fairly productive.  The HTML looks pretty solid and stripping off the headers and footers and various links shouldn't be all that difficult, even if it's posted as some long posts and the thread is locked afterward.
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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2007, 10:25:18 PM »
Any volunteers?

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2007, 10:50:38 PM »
If someone does it, don't include any of the HTML. Just copy and paste the text.
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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2007, 01:24:02 AM »
Done, at least as a first pass.  

http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/theory/therpgsite/landmarks.html

Thanks to John Morrow for the cached files.  

Can admins post as other users?  i.e. Can they post as me to reproduce a post of mine that was deleted?  If so, then I can provide the 108 posts as text files, but it would take an admin to enter them into a thread.

brettmb2

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2007, 11:23:24 AM »
Quote from: jhkim
Can admins post as other users?  i.e. Can they post as me to reproduce a post of mine that was deleted?  If so, then I can provide the 108 posts as text files, but it would take an admin to enter them into a thread.

No.
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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2007, 02:08:17 PM »
Quote from: jhkim
Done, at least as a first pass.  

http://www.darkshire.net/jhkim/rpg/theory/therpgsite/landmarks.html

Thanks to John Morrow for the cached files.  

And thank you, Mr. Kim, Sir! Awesome job, and a lot of work! :D

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Stuart

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2007, 02:43:49 PM »
:wizard:



08-26-2006, 02:32 PM
RPGPundit
For the purposes of this forum, which are not to philosophize about nonsensical theories pulled out from one's ass, there must be certain "Landmarks" that one can use, as the foundational basis by which one can establish what can be legitimate gaming theory and what is explicitly to be discounted.
A Landmark is a go/no-go test based on simple statements about the reality of RPGs as they apply to the mainstream of people playing them today!
If a theoretical proposition violates the Landmark, by suggesting that in some form or another RPGs as the vast majority of people understand or play them are currently wrong, said proposition is automatically illegitimate, with no debate. The landmarks are, in other words, an attempt at defining what the Gaming community is like and how it works.

Here are my "Landmarks of Gaming Theory":

1. The vast majority of gamers are having fun gaming.

2. The vast majority of gamers are satisfied with the majority of their game as it is played.

3. D&D is the model of what most people define as an RPG, and therefore also the model for a successfully-designed RPG. It can be improved upon or changed, but any theory that suggests that D&D as a whole (in any of its versions) was a "bad" RPG is by definition in violation of the Landmarks. You don't have to say it is the "best" RPG, but you are obviously not in touch with reality if your theory claims that D&D is a "bad" game, and then try to invent some convoluted conspiracy theory as to why millions of people play it anyways, more than any other RPG.

4. Given number 3 above, it is self-evident that games that have a broad spectrum of playstyles (as D&D does) are by definition successful games. Any theory that speculates that games must be narrowly-focused to be "good" games is automatically in violation of the Landmarks. Note that this doesn't mean that you must say narrow-focus games are "bad", or that narrow-focused games can't be considered appropriate, only that you cannot suggest that gamers don't want to play in RPGs that have a broad spectrum of playstyle, because they obviously do want to play exactly those kinds of games.

5. Conflicts do arise in gaming groups; these conflicts are usually the product of social interaction between the players and not a problem with the rules themselves. The solution to these problems is not to "Narrow the rules", but to broaden the playstyle of a group to accomodate what the complaining players are missing. Thus, it is a Landmark that all correct gaming theories, if they deal with "player dis-satisfaction" at all, must focus the nature of that dissatisfaction on the rules ONLY to suggest that a given rules-set is too narrow; and even then only because it is a symptom of an interpersonal social conflict within a group.

6. Given point #3, above, any gaming theory that suggest that the GM should get disproportionately more or less power than they do in D&D in order for a game to be "good" is inherently in violation of the Landmarks. The vast majority of players enjoy a game where the GM has power over the world and the players over their characters; and while a theory can suggest ways that GMs and Players can experiment with interactively creating the setting, it cannot suggest that the Players should have the power to tell the GM what to do (except for the "power" to walk away from a game).

7. Any gaming theory that tries to divide gamers into specific criteria of "types" must make it clear that this is only one kind of categorization, and not an absolutist and literal interpretation that is a universal truth; it is only one form of categorizing gamers.

8. Any theory that suggests, therefore, that its "types" are mutually exclusionary in gaming groups is in violation of the Landmarks. Individual people can end up being mutually exclusive to each other, unable to play in the same group, etc; but that is because of individual personal issues, not because of an issue of playstyle.

9. Any gaming theory that suggests that a significant element of what many players find entertaining is in fact a "delusion" or unreal, or that the gamers themselves don't know what they're doing or what they're thinking, or what they want from gaming, is in violation of the landmarks.

10. Given points #9 and #1, the suggestion that so-called "immersion" is not a real or viable goal in an RPG, or that "genre emulation" is not a viable priority in a game, is in violation of the Landmarks.

So there are my 10 Landmarks. That's it, fuckers, game over. From now on any future gaming theory should be designed with them in mind, and any existing or future gaming theory that is in violation of those landmarks should be instantly rejected as a product of a brain-damaged mind. The clear line in the sand has been marked, on the level.

So please do NOT come in here talking about GNS or other Forge theories as if those were acceptable theories or proven fact that everyone takes for granted. They do not. Especially here. In fact, here it is taken for granted, due to the miracle of common sense, that GNS and almost anything else that's come out of the Forge is utter bullshit, mental diarrea of the worst kind, and that there are turds floating in gutters with more claim to being viable gaming theories than GNS. This forum is an attempt at working with theory to actually do something productive, and to be quite possibly the only place on the entire net where you can talk about theory without having to pretend that GNS works or is real.


Feel free to try to design new theories, with the goal being that these theories actually be useful for making RPGs (or improving existing RPGs), but keep in mind that any theory that doesn't take common sense (and thus, the Landmarks as a guide to common sense) into account would probably be better suited to reality-free zones like the Forge.

Here, we actually LIKE reality.

RPGPundit

09-19-2006, 04:33 PM
KrakaJak
oops, wrong thread. Delete me please.    Last edited by KrakaJak : 09-19-2006 at 04:37 PM.

10-11-2007, 08:10 PM
RSDancey
Quote from: RPGPundit
Here are my "Landmarks of Gaming Theory":

1. The vast majority of gamers are having fun gaming.

Agree. However, you have to admit that gamers having fun gaming are a self-selected bunch. There could be a large population of people who might otherwise be gamers who are not having fun gaming because something about the existing games offered wasn't fun to them.

It seems reasonable therefore to entertain theories about what kind of games might attract those people.

You might reasonably object that the existence of such people is as much a guess as the guess that there may be games they might like to play that do not exist. My response would be that objection is valid, but we have 3 clear historical precedents that suggest that the industry was underserving its market until a new game concept appeared:

Tabletop RPGs (1970s)

Collectible Card Games (1990s)

3rd generation MMORPGs (2003+)

Given that history, it seems not unreasonable to assume the existence of a population we cannot yet identify.

So would it be fair to discuss a game theory that did not require existing gamers to be not having fun (which is obviously inaccurate) even if it suggested that some people did not have / would not have fun with the existing games and that new kinds of games might be required to get them into the hobby?

Quote
2. The vast majority of gamers are satisfied with the majority of their game as it is played.

Agree. However, I think this statement also needs the qualification that people who aren't satisfied with those games don't play them, which essentially restates my previous point.

Quote
3. D&D is the model of what most people define as an RPG, and therefore also the model for a successfully-designed RPG.

Agree.

Quote
4. Given number 3 above, it is self-evident that games that have a broad spectrum of playstyles (as D&D does) are by definition successful games.

Agree.

Quote
5. Conflicts do arise in gaming groups; these conflicts are usually the product of social interaction between the players and not a problem with the rules themselves.

Disagree. See AD&D 2E, a game that was less popular (in terms of sales) than both its predecessor and its descendants.

Sometimes, games just suck, but people play them anyway, and house-rule problems or accept a lot of arguments as the price to pay to get at the fun part.

Quote
6. Given point #3, above, any gaming theory that suggest that the GM should get disproportionately more or less power than they do in D&D in order for a game to be "good" is inherently in violation of the Landmarks.

Disagree. Otherwise you'd have to define all games people play and have fun with as breaking the Landmark unless the GM has the same level of power as in D&D.

What I think it would be immensely fair to say is that D&D-scoped DM power levels are not de facto a problem in any way, and are always a safe place to start from when engaging in game design.

Quote
7. Any gaming theory that tries to divide gamers into specific criteria of "types" must make it clear that this is only one kind of categorization, and not an absolutist and literal interpretation that is a universal truth; it is only one form of categorizing gamers.

Agree. Humans are to complex to reduce to simple points on a chart. Such reduction should always assume imprecision and exceptions.

Quote
8. Any theory that suggests, therefore, that its "types" are mutually exclusionary in gaming groups is in violation of the Landmarks.

Agree.

Quote
9. Any gaming theory that suggests that a significant element of what many players find entertaining is in fact a "delusion" or unreal, or that the gamers themselves don't know what they're doing or what they're thinking, or what they want from gaming, is in violation of the landmarks.

Agree, with the provisio that when a new idea does catch the fancy of a lot of gamers, we have to have the flexibility to admit that previous concepts missed something.

In other words, they may not know they want something until you show it to them.

Quote
10. Given points #9 and #1, the suggestion that so-called "immersion" is not a real or viable goal in an RPG, or that "genre emulation" is not a viable priority in a game, is in violation of the Landmarks.

Agree.

Ryan

10-11-2007, 08:23 PM
Kyle Aaron
His theory about roleplaying gamers is incomplete because it doesn't cover people who... aren't roleplaying gamers?

You're confusing a roleplaying theory with "marketing." Marketing is about people who aren't into something yet, and getting them into it. That's a different thing.

10-11-2007, 08:24 PM
Abyssal Maw
I was impressed with Ryan's answers here, and I actually agree with his point about AD&D2e, which I didn't think I would.

10-11-2007, 08:28 PM
Stuart
Quote from: RSDancey
Quote
5. Conflicts do arise in gaming groups; these conflicts are usually the product of social interaction between the players and not a problem with the rules themselves.
See AD&D 2E, a game that was less popular (in terms of sales) than both its predecessor and its descendants.

Sometimes, games just suck, but people play them anyway, and house-rule problems or accept a lot of arguments as the price to pay to get at the fun part.

How did the rules of AD&D 2E make the game "just suck"? :confused:

The rules of AD&D 2E were pretty close to AD&D 1E, weren't they? Are you saying AD&D 1E also sucked?

10-11-2007, 08:56 PM
Elliot Wilen
Quote from: Kyle Aaron
His theory about roleplaying gamers is incomplete because it doesn't cover people who... aren't roleplaying gamers?
Just so. This idea certainly hasn't been borne out very well in spite of being in the air for a while among the story-game fans. They still by and large look to mainstream games as their gateway and mainstream gamers as their market.

Furthermore the idea that the market was "underserved" e.g. by the RPG industry prior to 1973 ignores the possibility that the market did not exist prior to that time. What happened to make it "RPG time" then? Quite possibly, the GI bill and general increases in college enrollment were major factors, along with increased leisure time in an era when the options for entertainment were comparatively few.

In short I'm sure marketers like to think that they're discovering new horizons but sometimes it's really just a matter of things falling into their laps.

10-11-2007, 09:24 PM
James J Skach
I'd also point out that the three examples he gives (TTRPG, CCG, MMORPG) I doubt anyone would say were the same kinds of games, would they?

So if he's right, and if there's a huge market that remains untapped, and if Storytelling focus is the key - isn't it within the realm of possibility that it's not the same market as TTRPG?

Just a thought...

10-11-2007, 09:28 PM
Abyssal Maw
Quote from: Stuart
How did the rules of AD&D 2E make the game "just suck"? :confused:

The rules of AD&D 2E were pretty close to AD&D 1E, weren't they? Are you saying AD&D 1E also sucked?

There's actually guidance in the 2E DMG where this girl who has been playing a lawful neutral character for a couple of months is determined (by the GM) to have committed too many good acts. The advice is she gets docked like a level and a half.

First of all, thats a lot of XP, second of all, XP and levels didn't exactly flow in 2nd edition like they do in later editions (one of the most famously broken issues in 2E was the way XP worked. And the book was riddled with crap like that.

By comparison, 1E wasn't like that. It had kinda of it's own imperfect vibe, but there was just so much that was possible.

10-15-2007, 06:44 PM
RPGPundit
Hello Ryan. I would like to note that I have been a big fan, and defender, of you and your ideas about gaming; at least right up to the moment you went nuts just recently and did a full about-face on everything you were standing up for previously.

Still, though, maybe your ideas of gaming theory will be less insipid than the GNS-derived bullshit that the Forge has created. I doubt it, but hope springs eternal, and at least in your case I know that you really are (or at least were) a genius, unlike all the would-be genii over there. The only question is wheter you're now certifiably mad or what...

Quote from: RSDancey
Agree. However, you have to admit that gamers having fun gaming are a self-selected bunch. There could be a large population of people who might otherwise be gamers who are not having fun gaming because something about the existing games offered wasn't fun to them.

It seems reasonable therefore to entertain theories about what kind of games might attract those people.

You might reasonably object that the existence of such people is as much a guess as the guess that there may be games they might like to play that do not exist. My response would be that objection is valid, but we have 3 clear historical precedents that suggest that the industry was underserving its market until a new game concept appeared:

Tabletop RPGs (1970s)

Collectible Card Games (1990s)

3rd generation MMORPGs (2003+)

Given that history, it seems not unreasonable to assume the existence of a population we cannot yet identify.

I agree, but note that each of these is basically a new hobby. RPGs quickly stopped marketing themselves as "wargames"; CCGs never marketed themselves as "roleplaying games"; and MMORPGs are computer games which are a whole phenomenon unto themselves.

So I would suggest that whatever you could create that would be fun for people who would NOT have fun playing RPGs would NOT end up being an RPG. It would be an entirely different pass-time, and should not be marketed as an "RPG".

Quote
Disagree. See AD&D 2E, a game that was less popular (in terms of sales) than both its predecessor and its descendants.

Sometimes, games just suck, but people play them anyway, and house-rule problems or accept a lot of arguments as the price to pay to get at the fun part.

Note that I said "conflict in gaming groups"; I said nothing about whether a game is more or less entertaining. I'm talking about fights between players, or between players and GMs.
I certainly agree that some games can suck more than others. The thing I'm disagreeing with here is the idea is that when there's a conflict or power-struggle within a gaming group, its the rules' fault.

Quote
Disagree. Otherwise you'd have to define all games people play and have fun with as breaking the Landmark unless the GM has the same level of power as in D&D.

That is pretty much what I'm saying, yeah. Within a certain spectrum, anyways.

See, HERE is where I talk about games that suck. Games that give GMs an inordinately larger level of power than D&D will suck. Games that strip away the power from a GM will suck.

Quote
What I think it would be immensely fair to say is that D&D-scoped DM power levels are not de facto a problem in any way, and are always a safe place to start from when engaging in game design.

Ok.

Quote
Agree. Humans are to complex to reduce to simple points on a chart. Such reduction should always assume imprecision and exceptions.

And yet here you are now, advocating narrativist storygames?!

Quote
Agree, with the provisio that when a new idea does catch the fancy of a lot of gamers, we have to have the flexibility to admit that previous concepts missed something.

In other words, they may not know they want something until you show it to them.

It would appear that the majority of gamers have soundly rejected the supposed "concepts" of GNS theory, however. Most are perfectly happy with gaming RPGs the way RPGs have always been. Certainly, innovations come along in the rules, but every successful RPG has continued to follow the same basic skeletal structure and division of powers as D&D.

RPGPundit

10-16-2007, 05:19 AM
RSDancey
Quote from: RPGPundit
The only question is wheter you're now certifiably mad or what...

Here's hoping that I'm not mad. :)

[ my comment about divergence from the RPG category stripped ]
Quote
I agree, but note that each of these is basically a new hobby.

I'll agree that RPGs were not wargames, and that CCGs were not RPGs, but I won't agree that MMORPGS aren't RPGs. I find very little difference between the actual play pattern I have observed under many different settings for tabletop RPGs, and how people play WoW and other 3rd Gen MMOs. (Except for the DMs, of course, who are thoroughly disenfranchised). For many players, there's now a category shift option where you keep virtually everything you ACTUALLY do now in a TRPG, but you lose the DM, and gain the potential for much larger groups than most TRPGs can support in exchange.

I think there's a very good argument to be made that WoW shows us there were (and are) specific problems with the TRPG platform which were causing a vast number of people to self-select not to play them. WoW addressed those issues, and several million people responded with money and time committed. I think we owe it to ourselves to take a long hard look in the WoW mirror when it comes to "fun" in the TRPG platform.

Quote
I certainly agree that some games can suck more than others. The thing I'm disagreeing with here is the idea is that when there's a conflict or power-struggle within a gaming group, its the rules' fault.

Really? You really think that game rules can't lead to intraplayer conflict? You don't think that rules can be designed to avoid common sources of such conflict?

I think I'm misunderstanding something here.

Quote
Games that give GMs an inordinately larger level of power than D&D will suck. Games that strip away the power from a GM will suck.

I think you are wrong.

I do think that most of the games that have tried to distance themselves from D&D's DM baseline have not succeeded in being more fun.

But I do not believe that is the result of some intrinsic nature of the format, but rather of the effort & resources expended to try to overcome the problem.

It may turn out that D&D DM power levels, like the distance from home plate to first base ends up to be a simply perfect balancing point, but I think we need a lot more work on other approaches before we can safely make that determination.

Quote
And yet here you are now, advocating narrativist storygames?!

I am not advocating "narrativist storygames". I'm advocating the idea that we need to define the objective of the TRPG experience to be "tell a great story" then we need to take a long, hard look at the games we use to achieve that objective. And in addition, we need to look at the fact that the player network is changing rapidly in response to the 3rd Gen MMORPGs, and try to get ahead of the effects of that change.

I am on a 3rd path between classic TRPGs, and the output of the Forge and its fellow travelers. I'm trying to benefit from the best of both of those traditions while seeking a new foundation on which to stand.

Quote
It would appear that the majority of gamers have soundly rejected the supposed "concepts" of GNS theory, however.

GNS "theory" is demonstrably wrong, because it proceeds from a clearly false premise: that there are three kinds of players, G, N & S players. I trust my market research, and that research did not produce clusters of players in those particular spaces.

In addition, the theorists over at the Forge, while they got off to a really good start, seem to have failed to close. They don't have a strong set of working documents which describe what they believe to be true, and how to use it. Instead, they have thousands of messages scattered across blogs, message boards, and designer notes in games, and no two people seem to be able to repeat a standard definition or application for any of it.

I do think there are a lot of really, really good ideas in that work though. Frankly, I think the G, N & S segmentation works GREAT for game mechanics and the effects they produce when used (although I reject the idea that games must be all of one and none of the others, that's patently foolish). I think that they produced some very good, and very valid criticism of a lot of what we take for granted in stock TRPGs of many kinds, and that re-evaluating those assumptions based on that criticism would be very useful. And they have provided SOME vocabulary which will help us discuss these topics without having to stop and redefine a term every time we use it.

And I think that the logic problem they identified in the basic conceptual framework of most TRPGs (the so-called Impossible Thing) is a spot on, valid criticism, and I do think that there are a lot of people out there who really wish they were more empowered to "tell the story", rather than "experience the story".

So I am not willing to dismiss all that work, and all that effort out of hand, even if I don't agree with the finality of the analysis some of those people have reached, and if I fail to see the entertainment value in many of the games they produce while pursuing the resulting agendas, I certainly don't fail to see the entertainment value in some of those games.

I think we're less far apart than we may seem. I fully understand how powerful & successful D&D is, and what a template it has been for the whole category. But I'm also realistic as to its flaws and blind spots too.

Ryan

10-16-2007, 08:53 AM
Stuart
Quote from: RSDancey
we need to look at the fact that the player network is changing rapidly in response to the 3rd Gen MMORPGs, and try to get ahead of the effects of that change
Is there any actual evidence to back this up? I don't believe the claim that the player network is rapidly changing simply as a result of 3rd Gen MMORPGs. If it is changing, then there are other factors to consider.

Quote from: RSDancey
GNS "theory" is demonstrably wrong, because it proceeds from a clearly false premise: that there are three kinds of players, G, N & S players. I trust my market research, and that research did not produce clusters of players in those particular spaces.
This is somewhat true, although your research isn't that far off the GNS theory. It drops the S (which is pretty roughly tacked onto GNS) and divides G and N into short-term and long-term. Combat vs Story is the same as Gamist vs Narrativist is the same as Rollplay vs Roleplay. It's the same view of the gameplay in RPGs that we've been revisiting for decades. Your survey added an axis for short-term vs long-term, but it's basically the same thing.

Social, Reactive, Immersive, Collector, Spectator, etc -- these types of players aren't included in either set of theories...

10-16-2007, 09:03 AM
Settembrini
So, Ryan, what kind of Story ARE you talking about?

As you said yourself, your "Story-Games" are not the Story-Games-Story-Games.

Please deconfuse!

10-16-2007, 12:58 PM
RSDancey
Quote from: Settembrini
So, Ryan, what kind of Story ARE you talking about?

I have spent thousands of hours playing D&D in a mental condition of subconsciously asking myself "what am I doing and why am I doing it", and in the body language, comments and sometimes outright statements of my companions, seeing them asking themselves the same questions.

I have always known there was this "thing" about RPGs that captured my attention and connected with some deep part of me that no other thing in my life really did. But that "thing" was usually not fulfilled or only partially fulfilled while playing most of the time. Occasionally, things would seem to "snap" into some kind of focus, and then I would really feel the power of the experience, and I would feel very fulfilled.

Several experiences in recent years have caused me to engage in a lot of introspection about that problem, and I have come to the conclusion that when an RPG session became a shared medium for storytelling, it was great, and when it fell short of that state, it was a long way from satisfying. And that the "great" part of playing RPGs was infrequent and seemingly unpredictable. I was mentally putting up with a lot of downside because the upside was so wonderful. The "20 minutes of fun packed into 4 hours" observation resonated strongly with me as being fundamentally true, and I attribute its truth to the disconnect between what I am playing the game for (shared storytelling experiences) and what the game delivers during most of an average session.

So what I want to do is design, on purpose, RPGs that set out to make that state of shared storytelling happen more frequently, under repeatable conditions, and to drag the assumption that doing so is "the point" out into the sunlight so I have the knowledge that the other people at the table with me share the same desire (which I think further increases both the frequency, and the potency of the shared storytelling mode).

Ryan

10-16-2007, 01:21 PM
Settembrini
Great post, Ryan.
I think I understand a little bit better where you are coming from.

I´d just want to highlight that the vast majority of people I know and game with have fun 90% of the time.

Some questions:

Do you have fun...
  • exploring the unknown?
  • rolling a crit?
  • solving a mystery?
  • planning a war?
  • preparing spells?
  • anouncing your badass spell that nobody thunk of?
  • moving around little miniatures?
  • speaking with a funny voice?
  • marking off HP-loss?
  • fondling your dice?
  • searching for the special die?
  • rolling for initiative?
  • encountering an unknown entity?
  • bullying NPCs?
  • respecting NPCs?
  • buying equipment?
  • meeting with buddies?
  • eating the snacks?
  • strategizing over the enemies plans?
  • drawing a map?
  • jumping through a portal?
  • skimming books for feats?
  • organizing your character/campaign notes?
  • doing GM prep-time?
  • making a smart maneuvre?
  • making a smart move?
  • making a would be smart maneuvre, that turned out to be dumb?
  • putting your PC into harms way?
  • avoiding danger?
  • imagining what happens in the game world?
  • flying a starship?
  • riding a magic carpet?
Because I and most people I know have fun with this stuff, and that´s happening all the time, not only in a few instances. There´s a huge number of people who have a strong disconnect with the 20 to 480 ratio some people like you keep mentioning.

So from what I´ve understood, you really have mostly fun when the happenings in the game world play out in a way that it presents something that would be fun to watch on American Television? Character centered fun? Relationships? Is that the stuff you dig?


So maybe, just maybe, most people want adventure, where you want story.
Could that be?

10-16-2007, 01:46 PM
RSDancey
Quote from: Stuart
Is there any actual evidence to back this up? I don't believe the claim that the player network is rapidly changing simply as a result of 3rd Gen MMORPGs. If it is changing, then there are other factors to consider.

1) Unit sales volumes of RPGs have collapsed. This is not a "D&D problem". Sales have collapsed across virtually all RPGs in the market.

2) Market research indicates many people playing MMORPGs used to play tabletop RPGs and have stopped to play MMOs. Look at Nick Yee's site (http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/
) as a good place to start.

3) In July of 2006, I conducted a market research study for a client in the hobby gaming space who publishes RPGs. Of that publisher's RPG players, 45% reported playing an MMO, and 32% played more than 4 times a month, and of the people who had played an MMO, more than half reported that the experience was "more fun" than playing any tabletop RPG. This leads me to believe that these people will act in their own self-interest and switch from the RPG to the MMO platform.

Quote
This is somewhat true, although your research isn't that far off the GNS theory.

Wow. Now I'm going to sound like a Forgite. I apologize in advance.

You don't appear to understand what those terms mean. I will discuss these terms using games, not people, because I think it makes the definitions more clear; in true "Big Model" theory, G, N & S refer to people, not games.

"Gamism" refers to a state of play where competition is the dominant value. Poker is a pure "gamist" game; nobody is narrating or simulating anything. The only thing you do is try to beat other people.

"Simulation" refers to a state of play where the point is to create a simple system to model a complex system, and then explore how that system responds to different kinds of inputs. Sim City is a nearly-pure "simulation" game; you have no opponents, and no victory conditions, and the point of playing the game is to see how many different results you can obtain using the toolset.

"Narrativism" refers to a state of play where the point is to create an interesting story. MOST RPGs strive to be narrativist games. Few have victory conditions. Very few have competition. Most use their rules mechanics to simulate the bare minimum required to facilitate the story, and abstract as much as possible.

Our market research did not find any significant clusters of people in the TRPG player network who expressed strong preferences for "gamist" or "simulationist" RPGs. They are all basically Narrativists. Our 2-axis graph serves to further subdivide the Narrativists, not to separate Narrativists from other kinds of gamers, or other kinds of game experiences.

Quote
Social, Reactive, Immersive, Collector, Spectator, etc -- these types of players aren't included in either set of theories...

Because, in my opinion, these "kinds of people" do not exist in enough numbers to become visible as a definable set of traits & interests. And you can't design successful products for tiny groups of people when there are obvious, big groups of people who need to be served first.

Just because we may imagine a certain kind of player, or because we may observe a certain kind of player, or we may even be a certain kind of player, it does not follow that such kinds of players represent a large enough sub-group to be useful in discussing the player network.

Ryan

10-16-2007, 02:01 PM
RSDancey
Quote from: Settembrini
I´d just want to highlight that the vast majority of people I know and game with have fun 90% of the time.

I want to state that there's a difference between "having fun" in general, and the "having fun" because of thing you're doing generating the fun. I enjoy hanging out and shooting the breeze with my buddies as much as the next guy. If my TRPG sessions become an excuse to hang with the gang, then why not just do that, and not wrap it in the pretense that we're roleplaying?

And frankly, I think most people aren't "having fun 90% of the time" when they're gaming. I don't have fun 90% of the time when I'm doing ANYTHING, and ESPECIALLY not when I have to deal with other people's downtime. TRPGs are FULL of periods of downtime, when you're waiting for someone to decide what to do, or for a rule to be reviewed, etc.

I SCUBA dive. I LOOOOOOVE it. It typically takes me 3-5 hours of work to perform a 30-50 minute dive. If I described SCUBA diving to other divers as "50 minutes of fun packed into 5 hours", most of them would chuckle and agree. The time we spend on maintenance, gas fills, trip times, setup & tear down, and post-dive rinse & pack up is the "price" we pay for that magical interval under the water. I often "enjoy" parts of that non-dive time, but I wouldn't put up with it for one minute if it was not for the underwater time payoff. And if some technology comes along that cuts that non-dive time in half, I'll embrace it happily.

I think that some people see "20 minutes vs 4 hours" as a criticism of them, and that a lot of the response that comment gets is defensive. I never, ever meant it as criticism of people, but only of the format. It should be possible to pack "more fun" into that 4 hours. And that should not be a goal anyone in the hobby has a problem with pursuing.

Quote
Some questions:

I redacted the list. I have fun with all that stuff. I think that if you sat down behind a 1-way glass wall, with a stopwatch, and added up the time each participant in a game group spent in a 4 hour block of time doing those things, you'd end up with about 20 minutes. That stuff may be happening during 90% of the time, but it's not happing to each participant 90% of the time. (And based on observation, I don't think even that exhaustive list of stuff accounts for 90% of the time. I think a HUGE portion of the time is spent on "distractions" that have little or no value to anyone.)

Frankly, I think that if you asked people "what was fun about that game session", you'd be told about a moment or two of storytelling greatness, not "the times I got to roll dice for initiative". That kind of "fun" is like the fun I get from maintaining my SCUBA regulators; it's interesting, and I like mechanical stuff, and I like working with my hands, but it's a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

Quote
So from what I´ve understood, you really have mostly fun when the happenings in the game world play out in a way that it presents something that would be fun to watch on American Television? Character centered fun? Relationships? Is that the stuff you dig?

Nope. You're missing it. I "dig" the part where the group, collaboratively tells a great story, through the medium of the rules. Not watches. TELLS. As in "creates using our imagination something that did not previously exist".

Ryan

10-16-2007, 02:04 PM
James J Skach
Forgive me, Mr. Dancey, if I disagree given that my entire experience, admittedly my anecdotal evidence, completely contradicts your observations. And that's almost 30 years now of playing in various home games and at conventions.

And I truly mean no disrespect. It's just that I've never been in a game where the primary point was to create an interesting story. Do I think it exists? Absolutely. Have I ever seen it? Nope.

I think, perhaps, this is the extrapolation of terms and something lost in the translation. I think if you asked people if they wanted to be a part of an interesting story when playing, most would say yes. I think to extrapolate that to "I play RPG's to create interesting stories," and then "RPG's should be written with rule sets that focus on creating interesting stories," is the leap that fails.

But, I'm just going by my experience and what I've heard/seen people say.

10-16-2007, 02:16 PM
James J Skach
Wow. This might be a cultural divide just too broad to bridge.

And I want to thank you, Mr. Dancey, because without (for the most part) all the high-falutin condescending talk, you've nailed why I think this is, essentially, a different hobby.

Because the first time I heard RPG's described as a "shared story-telling experience," my reaction was: WTF?

I feel sorry for you that you've had to struggle so long in games that weren't fun for you. Good luck on creating some that are more to your tastes.

10-16-2007, 02:28 PM
RSDancey
Quote from: James J Skach
I think, perhaps, this is the extrapolation of terms and something lost in the translation. I think if you asked people if they wanted to be a part of an interesting story when playing, most would say yes. I think to extrapolate that to "I play RPG's to create interesting stories," and then "RPG's should be written with rule sets that focus on creating interesting stories," is the leap that fails.

Can you imagine having fun using the rules of D&D to do something that isn't about telling a story?

Can you imagine a game where you use the rules of D&D, but there's no story taking place? Like "4 people are in a room. They fight. Go!"

There are probably thousands of ways to use D&D to play a game that has no story in it. It is clearly possible. But nobody ever uses the game for that, do they?

Look at the GenCon program book. Page after page after page of RPG sessions submitted by people seeking others to game with. Every single one of those submissions states a premise and a story as the defining aspect of the session. None of them. I repeat, NONE OF THEM suggests that a group form to see who can roll the highest initiative, or who can assemble a character capable of delivering the highest possible damage, or any of those thousand other things you could do with D&D, but nobody ever does.

Doesn't that seem to suggest that the story is the point, and not the result?

Ryan

10-16-2007, 03:00 PM
Abyssal Maw
Quote
Our market research did not find any significant clusters of people in the TRPG player network who expressed strong preferences for "gamist" or "simulationist" RPGs. They are all basically Narrativists.

I have made this exact point before. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone. Values story first. Absolutely true.

But here's the disconnect:

The forgie definition of story *only* includes those stories that involve tackling a social issue or a moral dilemna. Often they aren't even stories, so much as just collections of interactions. Sometimes these are essentially just one-act play, "two characters discussing their relationship while on a train" kind of level of detail.

And my point is, you can't "play" that beyond a certain point. Certainly not in a reliable way, and definitely not if the people you are playing with don't care to be thespians. Often individual characters (and the ownership of characters by individual players) is deemphasized and none of this is really conducive to campaigns.
Often the characters are themselves disposable entities and the propponents pride themselves on their courageous "striving for failure to make a better story".

But I see that as unsustainable. These groups generally ONLY play at conventions. Half the time they play (or more than half) the game is intended as a playtest, "tryout" or demo and not even an actual game like you might naturally play for fun. They almost never seem to catch on or get played in a serial fashion with established groups, unless the designer himself is a member of that group. And because there are so many of these games and they all have different rules, you have to spend a certain amount of time teaching the rules. Every single time you play.

Since most people probably aren't going to play more than once, that may be the only time they try it out.

Because.. well.. why would they? Character development (indeed, character ownership) is often discouraged, everyone has to constantly address whatever dreary social issue of the day has cropped up, everyone fails in order to be cool, and the entire thing wraps up in under 3 sessions so that nobody needs an excuse to come back. So sure, they are producing stories.. but they're all like these college creative writing "issue" short story type deals. Which is trite. Some of these guys are even doing improv exercises before they play like wiggling their bodies all around.

Campaigns are themselves stories. It seems obvious that the best way of appealing to the ubiquitous desire for story is to have games that facilitate better campaigns, rather than create these anti-campaign episodic deals.

10-16-2007, 03:07 PM
kryyst
Quote from: RSDancey
Can you imagine having fun using the rules of D&D to do something that isn't about telling a story?

Can you imagine a game where you use the rules of D&D, but there's no story taking place? Like "4 people are in a room. They fight. Go!"

But that in itself is a story albeit a short one. You can't play any role playing game in such a fashion that it doesn't create some kind of story. The quality of the story is subject to very. But that's a function of the ability of the people telling it. The rules are irrelevantly. If you can you are no longer playing a role and are no longer telling a story. You can have an RPG that is primarily driven by the story even if the rule is as simple as each person talks for 5 mins then switches. That's a rule, that could be a game. If each person has a different character(s) that they are responsible for within the game then you now have a role playing game.

But the bottom line is that the quality of the story is not defined by the rules of the game. They are two seperate things that have two seperate purposes. But you can't use one independently of the other and still have a role playing game. You'll either get a Story with no game or a board game with no story.

The interesting bit is that you can make a fun game that doesn't drive or is driven by a story. However it's impossible to make a game that creates a good story. That's entirely in the abilities of the individual.

10-16-2007, 03:08 PM
Stuart
Quote from: RSDancey
Quote
Is there any actual evidence to back this up? I don't believe the claim that the player network is rapidly changing simply as a result of 3rd Gen MMORPGs. If it is changing, then there are other factors to consider.
1) Unit sales volumes of RPGs have collapsed. This is not a "D&D problem". Sales have collapsed across virtually all RPGs in the market.

I strongly believe there are other factors to consider than simply 3rd Gen MMORPGs. D&D 3e launched during the EverQuest heydays, and your own research from 99/00 concluded that people would play BOTH videogames and table top games. The Board Game industry is picking up, even though people could play those games online. It's something more than just WoW...

Quote from: RSDancey
2) Market research indicates many people playing MMORPGs used to play tabletop RPGs and have stopped to play MMOs. Look at Nick Yee's site (http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/
) as a good place to start.

The Methodology for all Nick's surveys is to post links on the main portals catering to specific MMORPG games. It's just as reasonable to say that the people playing MMORPGs who *didn't* come at them via TTRPGs are a prospective customers.

Quote from: RSDancey
Our market research did not find any significant clusters of people in the TRPG player network who expressed strong preferences for "gamist" or "simulationist" RPGs.

How's that?

So you're saying a "Power Gamer" which you describe as "a player who most enjoys the game when it delivers a Tactical/Combat Focus" is... a narrativist player?

:confused:

Quote from: RSDancey
Quote
Social, Reactive, Immersive, Collector, Spectator, etc -- these types of players aren't included in either set of theories...
Because, in my opinion, these "kinds of people" do not exist in enough numbers to become visible as a definable set of traits & interests.

Don't you think there are a lot of collectors in the hobby games industry? And think socializing is a major reason for face-to-face gaming instead of gaming over the internet? :confused:

Quote from: RSDancey
Just because we may imagine a certain kind of player, or because we may observe a certain kind of player, or we may even be a certain kind of player, it does not follow that such kinds of players represent a large enough sub-group to be useful in discussing the player network.

I think that's true.

10-16-2007, 03:10 PM
estar
Quote from: RSDancey
2) Market research indicates many people playing MMORPGs used to play tabletop RPGs and have stopped to play MMOs. Look at Nick Yee's site (http://www.nickyee.com/daedalus/
) as a good place to start.

I don't disagree what you are saying about MMORPGs versus RPGs in terms of sales. However I don't think it is the complete picture.

I been playing MMORPGs since the beginning starting with Ultima Online. Along with the experience of running a NERO boffer style LARP. Plus my regular table-top sessions never disappeared.

The one thing I noticed what MMORPGs and LARPS shared is their lack of endurance. By endurance I mean how long players stuck with playing the actual game. Compared to Table-top it seemed that MMORPGs had a high rate of churn of players coming and going. That long-term players are rare.

Have several observations in over a decade of play. I throw in LARPS because boffer style have some of advantages and disadvantages of MMORPGS.

All game systems are limited by nature and eventually you just run out of things to do. For boffer style LARPS the problem is generally more the rule set for MMORPG it is the setting. But both rule set and settings for both are more limited than table-top.

Long term players have social connections that keeps the game interesting. Either a guild, or a group of friends. Very long term players manage to associate with multiple groups or become part of staff in the case of LARPS.

MMORPGS and LARPS have a problem with griefing either in-game or socially. Due the volume of players you WILL get a few jerks in the mix.

The combination of the above three makes MMORPGS (and LARPS) more intense but ephemeral experience. As far as MMORPGS goes many players leap from game to game especially now in the 3rd generation.

It seems to be that Table-top groups are harder to form but endure longer. That players buy more for the game itself then they would for LARPS and/or MMORPRGS.

10-16-2007, 03:16 PM
Elliot Wilen
Quote from: RSDancey
"Gamism" refers to a state of play where competition is the dominant value. Poker is a pure "gamist" game; nobody is narrating or simulating anything. The only thing you do is try to beat other people.

"Simulation" refers to a state of play where the point is to create a simple system to model a complex system, and then explore how that system responds to different kinds of inputs. Sim City is a nearly-pure "simulation" game; you have no opponents, and no victory conditions, and the point of playing the game is to see how many different results you can obtain using the toolset.

"Narrativism" refers to a state of play where the point is to create an interesting story. MOST RPGs strive to be narrativist games. Few have victory conditions. Very few have competition. Most use their rules mechanics to simulate the bare minimum required to facilitate the story, and abstract as much as possible.

Our market research did not find any significant clusters of people in the TRPG player network who expressed strong preferences for "gamist" or "simulationist" RPGs. They are all basically Narrativists. Our 2-axis graph serves to further subdivide the Narrativists, not to separate Narrativists from other kinds of gamers, or other kinds of game experiences.
The flaw here, I think, is that you offer examples of "pure" gamism and simulationism, to show that those aren't what people who play RPGs are after. Similarly when you talk about socializing with friends. However you do not offer an example of "pure" Nar which can serve as a yardstick; instead you fall into the common naive GNS trap of assuming that any interest in "story" (conceived a certain way) = total willingness to compromise other aspects of the RPG experience.

The idea of abstracting "the bare minimum" necessarily begs the question of what that minimum is, as well.

What lies at bottom of this is that RPGs are in practice a compromise between competing interests, and attempts to move them in one direction or the other will always provoke questions of "why don't you do X instead?" This should be a sign to you that your tastes aren't universal, after all, and the observation that "we're all Narrativists" is less significant than you might think.

10-16-2007, 03:34 PM
Alnag
Actually based on your research Ryan and GNS, everybody (or mostly everybody) is simulationist, because they try to simulate/explore story, that is part of simulationist creative agenda in Big Model. Narrativism is about very special "kind" of story.

That is why simulationist games are more popular than narativist or gamist for that matter. Because there is huge amount of simulationists around (that kind which simulates or explores story) and fewer gamists or narativists.

And here you are. This is the problem with GNS/Big Model - it is so incomprehensible and full of smoke and mirrors you actually can not easily grasp it. The reason is exactly that kind of mistake you do. You should think, that you strive for narativism although you acutally want to explore story (or something). The experience of common player with narativist game is not a pleasant one.

10-16-2007, 03:37 PM
Settembrini
I still think Mr. Dancey has not defined "Story" in any meaningful way that would de-obfuscate his statements.

If he doesn´t want moral dillemmata and American Television plotlines, then why call it story-game?

That´s what NARR is and what it delivers: moral questions and statements, concerning the individual. Double points if it really is more about the players than about the characters.

And most people don´t like that.

Ryan, could you provide a link or an actual play example of what you mean when saying "story"?

10-16-2007, 03:39 PM
James J Skach
Quote from: RSDancey
Can you imagine having fun using the rules of D&D to do something that isn't about telling a story?
Yup. every time I've ever played it's not about telling a story. It's likely a story will result; but it's not the point - whcih is why I say to leap from the one to the other is a mistake. Don't get me wrong, some people sit down with the direct purpose of constructing a story. I say, "Have fun!"

But don't mistake the fact that many of us expect a story will happen with that as our purpose or goal.

Quote from: RSDancey
Can you imagine a game where you use the rules of D&D, but there's no story taking place? Like "4 people are in a room. They fight. Go!"
Aren't there like, dueling things at WotC? It's not my cuppa, but there are obviously people who do it. Besides, you've just used the setup for the fourth module in the Slavers series (A4) IIRC :D

Quote from: RSDancey
There are probably thousands of ways to use D&D to play a game that has no story in it. It is clearly possible. But nobody ever uses the game for that, do they?
Some do - as I said, I've seen..dammit...you're going ot make me look this up, aren't you...I give you the D&D Fight Club Arena
!

And as I keep saying, the difference between having a story in it, and setting out with the purpose of shared story-creating exercise are two completely different things.

Quote from: RSDancey
Look at the GenCon program book. Page after page after page of RPG sessions submitted by people seeking others to game with. Every single one of those submissions states a premise and a story as the defining aspect of the session.
Wait - a premise and a story? It seems to me that they present a premise, and most participants expect a story to result. But I doubt many, except those specifically designated and story-creating endeavors, bank on people setting out to tell a capital-S-Story as their overarching goal.

Quote from: RSDancey
None of them. I repeat, NONE OF THEM suggests that a group form to see who can roll the highest initiative
So...if you're not telling a story your fighting over initiative? Excluded middle, perhaps?

Quote from: RSDancey
or who can assemble a character capable of delivering the highest possible damage
do you know how many posts in thread and yahoo groups I've seen where people discuss this very subject? It's amazing the depths to which peopole understand these rules and figure out the maximum damage.

Quote from: RSDancey
or any of those thousand other things you could do with D&D, but nobody ever does.
I've given two examples (Arena and Max Damage discussions) in which people do things that have nothing to do with sitting down in a session with the goal of collaboratively creating a story. Which, quite frankly, is besides the point, because:

Quote from: RSDancey
Doesn't that seem to suggest that the story is the point, and not the result?
No. The observations you have provided suggest nothing more than people expect that a story will result. The question is if they sit down to create a story, or experience something that will result in a story. My conjecture based on my experience is that the historical majority of the TTRPG, the players are the latter. There are certainly those who prefer the former, and, as I've said, I hope they get interesting games to do so. But to change the entire hobby for them seems like a nose-face-trees-forest-baby-bathwater-pick-your-metaphor act.

10-16-2007, 03:40 PM
Stuart
In this interview ( http://www.theoryfromthecloset.com/s...tc_show008.mp3
)Ron Edwards discusses The Forge, his Theories, and the Brain Damage comment. It certainly sounds like "Narrativism" meaning "Story Now" is different from "Story Before" or "Story After" which you'll find in many, many RPGs.

You might also want to look at this game:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/1234


Which is game-game-game and has a definite winner.

Quote
Once Upon A Time is a game in which the players create a story together, using cards that show typical elements from fairy tales. One player is the Storyteller, and creates a story using the ingredients on her cards. She tries to guide the plot towards her own ending. The other players try to use cards to interrupt her and become the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to play out all her cards and end with her Happy Ever After card.

It's not Narrative (in the GNS sense). It's not Simulationist. So it must be Gamist.

And yet... story.

10-16-2007, 03:54 PM
Levi Kornelsen
(Yeah, after some thought, this is a thread worth dropping in for.)

Quote from: Abyssal Maw
I have made this exact point before. Everyone. Everyone. Everyone. Values story first. Absolutely true.

Yes. And, to your later points, also yes, goddamit.

The "properly Narrativist" definition of story is too narrow.

The White Wolf one is bloody stupid.

But, as Stuart said:

Quote from: Stuart
And yet... story.


10-16-2007, 04:04 PM
Levi Kornelsen
Quote from: RSDancey
I'm advocating the idea that we need to define the objective of the TRPG experience to be "tell a great story" then we need to take a long, hard look at the games we use to achieve that objective.

This is a damn tricky statement specifically because of the way that the concept of story has been appiled to gaming.

Do people want great stories from their games? Damn right they do.

But What kind of story do they mean? The kind where the GM creates glorious events, riding you forward on a gorgeous and invisible railroad? The kind where we all contribute to plot and basically give up "owning" characters or setting, to the point where some current gamers can't feel invested anymore? The awesome and always-spotaneous 'shit that just went down' that we spout to each other in the pub afterwards, which basically has to happen by accident? The stuff that comes out of a "sandbox" game that's got so much conflict dumped into it that you just can't help but create something storylike simply by resolving things? The kind that comes from characters with huge ambitions seeking to make those into reality, and being challenged every damn step of the way?

Because, see, some of those don't go together easily, and some don't go together at all.

10-16-2007, 04:06 PM
estar
Quote from: RSDancey
I have always known there was this "thing" about RPGs that captured my attention and connected with some deep part of me that no other thing in my life really did. But that "thing" was usually not fulfilled or only partially fulfilled while playing most of the time. Occasionally, things would seem to "snap" into some kind of focus, and then I would really feel the power of the experience, and I would feel very fulfilled.

This is immersion, the sense that you are actually there in the action. LARPS attempts to enhances this via Live-action. MMORPGs through the graphics of the setting. Both use the number of players as well.

10-16-2007, 04:10 PM
Levi Kornelsen
Quote from: estar
This is immersion, the sense that you are actually there in the action. LARPS attempts to enhances this via Live-action. MMORPGs through the graphics of the setting. Both use the number of players as well.

Well, it's probably a flow state
, anyhow.

10-16-2007, 04:13 PM
Stuart
I think of Flow State and Immersion as different but related concepts. You can enter a flow state playing Chess... but you don't feel "Immersed" in a medieval battlefield by playing Chess.

10-16-2007, 04:20 PM
Levi Kornelsen
Quote from: Stuart
I think of Flow State and Immersion as different but related concepts. You can enter a flow state playing Chess... but you don't feel "Immersed" in a medieval battlefield by playing Chess.

By my lights, there's more than one kind of flow state, and immersion is one of them.

And this is based on intensive research, fella-me-lad. I've played the videogame flOw for many, many hours, and read hundreds of amateur opinions right here on this very internet.

So there!

10-16-2007, 04:22 PM
Abyssal Maw
(There I was writing what I was certain was "my most offensive post ever. probably.." and then Levi agrees with me. Some days villainy doesn't pay!!!)


:D

10-16-2007, 04:28 PM
Alnag
Quote from: Levi Kornelsen
By my lights, there's more than one kind of flow state, and immersion is one of them.

IMO flow is just a part of immersion in RPG sense.

Nevermind... I think in Ryan Dancey's research there was no definition of story (although I might be mistaken). I belive that the people that time understand it in its common sense. That means not in the sense provided by GNS/Big Model for narrativism.

10-16-2007, 04:31 PM
Levi Kornelsen
Quote from: Alnag
I belive that the people that time understand it in its common sense. That means not in the sense provided by GNS/Big Model for narrativism.

Right on. So, it doesn't mean that specific thing.

What does you think it does mean, then, in the common sense, to the people that answered the survey?

'Cause "the common sense" could still mean a hell of a lot of things - and very possibly did, to different people.

10-16-2007, 04:38 PM
Abyssal Maw
My own (admittedly unacademic and probably stupid) definition of story is "an account of characters that go places and do things".

The more interesting the characters are and the more exciting the things they do is directly related to .. the accessibility (i.e. "fun value") of the story.

So the best games are the ones which enable the most interesting characters doing the most interesting things.

Adventures.

10-16-2007, 04:59 PM
Alnag
Story IMO is a set of interconnected events leading frome some issue to some conclusion. It has its tone, it has its setting, it has its characters, it has an element of excitement, adventure, fun, whatever. But I belive that the most important is a meaning or conclusion. It lead to something.

But as Abyssal Maw says it. Adventure - that's it. RPGs always had the story element in themselves. The fact that some people want a very specific kind of story (about

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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2007, 02:47:28 PM »
Well done, Stuart. Thanks.
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