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Author Topic: Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory  (Read 55284 times)

mythusmage

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #45 on: November 25, 2012, 09:51:35 PM »
Quote from: Libertad;602273
A theory I've heard elsewhere:

If an RPG's design does not reflect the themes it sets out to emulate, then it is a failure.


Who determines if the design does emulate the themes? I know one man who ran a "Sauron Wins" campaign using Big Eyes and Small Mouth. What are the themes, and how do you emulate them?

In Dangerous Journeys (Gary Gygax) there is a mechanism for applying damage to a character; mental, physical, or spiritual. When applying damage the moderator has to keep track of either Wound Level or Critical Level (Physical Trait) or Effectiveness Level (Mental or Spiritual Trait). If the level is exceeded the character is either disabled, or incapacitated outright. In addition, a character can fight mobs of minions taking little damage overall, only to fall victim to some mook attacking by surprise and doing loads of damage with his weapon. Which does a pretty good job of emulating the fights found in the pulp stories Gary read as a kid.

Take a story or movie or style of fiction or genre and determine the themes. Then devise rules that emulate those themes. What are the themes of Star Trek, or Gunsmoke? How would you emulate those themes?
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Monster Manuel

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #46 on: September 24, 2013, 09:49:44 AM »
I am 100% with you (Pundit) on the points about narrow games. It's a fad nowadays to write hyperfocused rule sets, and too many people are treating that approach as if it's the only way to make a good game. I'd even go so far as to say that for my purposes, many of the worst games are the ones that are hyperfocused.

As the focus grows more narrow, the likelihood that a game remains an RPG goes down. Eventually you're left with a storygame that tells one story over and over, like "My Life with Master".
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The Mosaic Oracle is on sale now. It's a raw, open-sourced game design Toolk/Kit based on Lurianic Kabbalah and Lambda Calculus that uses English key words to build statements. If you can tell stories, you can make it work. It fits on one page. Wait for future games if you want something basic; an implementation called Wonders and Worldlings is coming soon.

Phillip

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #47 on: September 28, 2013, 01:35:04 PM »
From way back, but pretty typical I think of remarks from a certain segment of the hobby:
Quote from: RSDancey
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.

It would be easier to address this if just what's meant by "shared storytelling" were laid out clearly. There's a sense in which it means something a lot of people would call a "story game" that's "not really an RPG" (too much out-of-character decision making, to the purpose of imposing a dramatic structure).

However, someone else using such language could simply mean that the game has got bogged down in dull events. It's not a problem to be fixed by some alteration of the division of GM and player responsibility; it's a problem of people not using that responsibility well.

If I understand it (always uncertain with Forge rhetoric), the "Impossible Thing" is the supposed claim in some game texts that when the GM wants one thing to happen and the players want another, both can simultaneously get their incompatible ways.

This is not a problem in the oldest "traditional RPG" campaign framework, since the players handle their characters and the GM handles the rest of the world. The GM sets up an environment, not a program of staged scenes through which the players must be driven. This is just common sense from the wargame perspective that informed the pioneers.
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robiswrong

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #48 on: November 08, 2013, 03:59:54 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;148872
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

....

Here, we actually LIKE reality.


Can I sign this?

One thing that bugs me about fan "theory" (of any kind) is how often it simply promotes the author's preferences, and just serves to validate those preferences while providing a pseudo-academic way to dismiss the (usually more popular) things the author dislikes.

I used to work for SOE.  Lots of MMO theorists (some of whom are pretty famous in that world) predicted the imminent death of EverQuest in 1999 (I remember one quote by a famous designer giving it '2-4 months').  It's still running.  Its official sequel, EverQuest II, is still running.  Its spiritual successor, WoW, is the most massively popular MMO around, still.

The majority of games that held to the "superior" design theories aren't.

The measure of any theory in the scientific world is how well it predicts future events.  If your theory can't even predict *current* events (such as explaining why popular things are in fact popular), then it's a pretty crappy theory.

GrumpyReviews

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #49 on: November 08, 2013, 07:21:37 PM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;148872
1. The vast majority of gamers are having fun gaming.


Yeah, but if they are story gaming, narrativist gaming or anything like that, then they are doing it wrong and it doesn't count and they need to be kicked in the fig sack over and over, just on general principal.
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The Traveller

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #50 on: November 08, 2013, 08:19:13 PM »
Quote from: GrumpyReviews;706508
Yeah, but if they are story gaming, narrativist gaming or anything like that, then they are doing it wrong and it doesn't count and they need to be kicked in the fig sack over and over, just on general principal.
No, they're just doing it differently enough to be called a seperate hobby and need to be kicked in the fig sack over and over until that fact sinks in.

You see here lies the conundrum, please square this circle by all means; they claim both that shared narrative gaming is new, cutting edge and the destroyer of all that came before it while simultaneously being exactly the same and no different to what came before it.

And this is without ever going into the particulars of the origins of forge "theory" or the fuckery that skidmarks like Maid revel in.
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A concise overview of GNS theory.
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If you care about character arcs or any, any, any lit 101 stuff, I'd choose a different game.

robiswrong

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #51 on: November 09, 2013, 12:32:25 AM »
Quote from: The Traveller;706512
No, they're just doing it differently enough to be called a seperate hobby and need to be kicked in the fig sack over and over until that fact sinks in.


Hell, I'd almost argue that linear, adventure-path style gaming is different enough from the original D&D structure to almost be considered a separate hobby.

The Traveller

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #52 on: November 09, 2013, 11:05:03 AM »
Quote from: robiswrong;706546
Hell, I'd almost argue that linear, adventure-path style gaming is different enough from the original D&D structure to almost be considered a separate hobby.

Hey I mean pretending to be a storyteller who is pretending to be a character in a pretend novel is a perfectly valid way to pass one's time... if that's what one is into... but there's a whole lot of water between that and a railroad campaign.

You sit around a table throwing dice in a monopoly game too, and I don't see anyone calling that an RPG.
"These children are playing with dark and dangerous powers!"
"What else are you meant to do with dark and dangerous powers?"
A concise overview of GNS theory.
Quote from: that muppet vince baker on RPGs
If you care about character arcs or any, any, any lit 101 stuff, I'd choose a different game.

Arduin

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #53 on: November 09, 2013, 11:24:30 AM »
Quote from: RPGPundit;148872
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.


No.  This part could be incorrect.  If 4E had been released by a different company without the "name", it would have gone nowhere, relatively speaking.

robiswrong

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #54 on: November 11, 2013, 04:17:21 AM »
Quote from: The Traveller;706583
Hey I mean pretending to be a storyteller who is pretending to be a character in a pretend novel is a perfectly valid way to pass one's time... if that's what one is into... but there's a whole lot of water between that and a railroad campaign.

You sit around a table throwing dice in a monopoly game too, and I don't see anyone calling that an RPG.


I'm not saying that storygames and AP style games are the same - just saying that they're both pretty different than the older D&D campaign structure.

Hockey is not skiing.  Boblsedding is not skiing.  That doesn't mean that bobsledding is hockey.  They're all sports that involve frozen water.  Bobsledding and skiing are more similar to each other in hockey in some ways, in that they both involve sliding down a hill using gravity, and are about speed, as opposed to hockey as a team sport.

Lunamancer

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #55 on: December 06, 2015, 12:44:27 AM »
I'm still new here, poking around. I thought the landmarks were interesting because I reached a lot of the same conclusions but for very different reasons.

GNS is demonstrably false. Based on the core claim that it's impossible have G, N, and S in fullest form simultaneously, all it takes is one single counter-example. I feel like virtually all of my first-hand experience provides a counter-example.

As for requiring a broad range of play, that is a must for the simple reason most real life gamers--as opposed to, say, homo narrativus, who we just assume is always and forever satisfied by narrativism and only narrativism--can like more than just one thing. Even if you do have homo narrativus, what are the odds everyone at the table is going to fit that mold?

The narrow specialty view would have you jumping from one system to the next every time you want to scratch a different itch. But doing this would rule out perhaps one of the most universally endearing feature of the RPG. To play and develop a character over a long period of time. I dropped that bomb many years ago on RPGnet. Not only was I not banned, they agreed I was right. But rather than it being treated as a nail in the coffin to the narrow specialty view, it just treated as a problem with no answer and was soon ignored.

So maybe I can't conclude with certainty that the narrow focus view is bad. But I can say it is simply not a good approach if you value being able to play the same character over a long period of time.

As for conflict at the table, I look at it like this. You could decide to sit at the table alone. That way you get everything exactly the way you want it. For most people, that's just not a lot of fun. Adding another person brings so much more fun, that it's worth compromising in one or two places. Same with adding a third, a forth, and so on, until you hit whatever group size is most fun for you.

In other words, when gamers get together, it's adding value for everyone. Yes, there are compromises, but it's a relatively small trade-off for the greater benefit of having other players. This is a cooperative view of how people get along at the game table. Not a conflict-driven one. So there are no great conflict dilemmas to ponder and resolve in the first place.

I mean the Knights of the Dinner table seems like a pretty damn dysfunctional group. But guess what? They keep coming back to play together. Must be more good than bad.

TrippyHippy

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« Reply #56 on: December 06, 2015, 05:09:31 AM »
The argument I always had against GNS Theory was Pendragon RPG. I've been told that it was a "simulationist' game, when it clearly has aspects that are narrative driven and game driven too.

So why categorise it at all?

The major drive of Forge-style game theory was to balkanise gaming into categories (largely defined by themselves), and then label games as being 'incoherent' if they didn't support these theories in the design process.

So Vampire: The Masquerade was 'incoherent' because you could play it in different ways, rather than being straightjacketed into a specific 'personal horror'...er...'narrative' game. D&D4th, however, was 'coherent' because it was purely about winning the game (and little else) and was therefore solidly 'gamist'. In short, I felt that GNS theory is a recipe for bad design, not good.

I also take issue with the 'Indie' moniker, where games like Fate and Apocalypse World games are every bit as commercialised, supported by third parties and written by committee as any other game on the shelf. But that's another story...
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Lunamancer

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #57 on: December 06, 2015, 08:45:48 AM »
Me, personally, I always thought G, N, and S were BEST achieved when they were all achieved together. Conversely, a narrative, for example, that lacks internal consistency falls flat.

But the nice thing about GNS making up new terms is, whenever you present an argument that clearly debunks the theory, they can say "well, that's not what we meant by narrativist" or "that's not what we meant by creative agenda." It's a game of three-card monty, you can't win.

Take a look at the wikipedia version of GNS, for example. Narrativism seems to have little to do with narratives or stories. It's about how character motivations affect play. So for some reason, under this scheme, following through on what logically happens is simulationist when it involves the game world but narrativist if it involves a select few characters from that game world.

The difference between Gamism and Narrativism is a little bit more reasonable, but still falls apart under close scrutiny. It seems like narrativism concerns itself with the goals of characters (I know it didn't say the word "goals" but motives always imply goals). But gamism is about the goals of players. Now what happens if a player's goal is to put himself into his character's shoes and drive that character towards that character's goals? In other words, I'm asking what happens if he's playing a roleplaying game. It would seem the distinction between G and N would disappear just as surely as N and S.

Showing G and S as one is almost too easy. In the early days of the theory, it took a lot of work to try and distinguish the two. But I will say again, suppose, as is the case in a roleplaying game, that the rules, conditions, and obstacles of the game were that of a consistent game world? And why not just throw highly motivated characters in as well.

Catelf

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #58 on: December 06, 2015, 03:13:25 PM »
Sheesh, Lunamancer, I finally now understood why I easily got headaches when trying to understand the "GNS theory" when I was at the Forge.

That explanation is ludicrous!

As I saw it, G is Gaming, N is Narrative, and S is Simulation, or more precisely:
Rules, Story and Roleplaying!
And here I mean Story in the looser sense of the word, including plot hooks, any planned timeline, what happens and any retelling of what happened after it is done.

And I always thought a RolePlaying Game was best achieved by combining all those three, as well!

Oh my ....
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« Reply #59 on: December 07, 2015, 04:29:46 PM »
These aren't landmarks of gaming theory, they're axioms of A gaming theory.

I don't see any point in ronedwardsing "landmark" like he did "incoherent". You're talking in axioms, use the right damn word. There are enough problems with postmodern academia redefining words left and right, there's no reason for you to get in the act.

And something doesn't have to be "right" to be a landmark, it just has to be important and influential. Aristotelian physics is a landmark of physics, and it's dead wrong. GDS and GNS were landmarks in RPG theory, they were important and influential. Whether or not you think one or the other or both are misguided is immaterial to whether or not they are landmarks.