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Author Topic: Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory  (Read 54371 times)

TristramEvans

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #90 on: December 21, 2015, 12:44:21 AM »
Quote from: yosemitemike;870020
I took that as meaning he thinks it's all a  fucking load of bullshit.

Bingo.

Let me specify:

Quote from: The RPGPundit
]Here are my "Landmarks of Gaming Theory":

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

I would hope so, but I can't say 1) what kind of theory that is or 2) how one could possibly support that statement beyond the notion that if they weren't having fun, why would they do it? Which I suppose is the closest thing to self-evidence we're going to find in this post.

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

Highly unlikely. Hence the vast, vast outpouring of independent games, heartbreakers, etc.

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3. D&D is the model of what most people define as an RPG,

Most people being people who don't play RPGs. Of course, what "D&D" means to someone is completely up in the air, since its a brand name attached to a variety of disparate systems, some only tentatively connected by theme and a few catchphrases. A person who plays OD&D is not likely to offer a definition of RPGs thats the same as someone who plays AD&D, let alone 4th edition D&D.

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and therefore also the model for a successfully-designed RPG.

Counter-intuitive to the extreme. Apparently this means "financial success", in which case the majority of games that most resemble D&D have largely been huge financial failures, with only a few exceptions such as Pathfinder. And there's no reason "successful-design should be equated with financial success or popularity.

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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.

What a load of wank.

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4. Given number 3 above

#3 is not a given.

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it is self-evident that games that have a broad spectrum of playstyles (as D&D does) are by definition successful games.

So now "successful" is being used to mean something besides financial success and popularity, even though that was clearly the only definition under which its original use made any sort of sense in context. This is the game theory equivalent of a ball and cup game.

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Any theory that speculates that games must be narrowly-focused to be "good" games is automatically in violation of the Landmarks.

Which is a meaningless statement.

The thing is, I agree with the next statement...

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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.

But the "reasoning" leading up to it in no way supports it as a conclusion.

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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.

Baseless assumptions.

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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.

More meaningless wankery.

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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).

...and trying to dictate terms based upon said wankery.

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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.

I don't think any theory "must" do anything of the sort, but this statement is also meaningless simply because EVERY game theory proposed, from Tri-fold to Edward's dreaded GNS, states exactly that.

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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.

The house of cards tottles higher

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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.

Who cares if its in violation of "The Landmarks", as the Landmarks are just the rantings of one guy's poorly-thought out opinions? There's no weight behind this, but its stated like these are laws being passed down from on high. Pretentious nonsense. Even if, this one starts with a statement I also would generally agree with. It's just smeared all over with bullshit.

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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.

Given this is the Pundit's opinions, here's another unrelated opinion that doesn't in any way actually follow as a logical conclusion.

This can't even be regarded as theory, it's a thinly-veiled attempt to make a non-committal, poorly done rebuttal of Forge theory  sound as if its based upon some sort of academic reasoning.


Hence, bullshit.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2015, 01:05:54 AM by TristramEvans »
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Lunamancer

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #91 on: December 21, 2015, 10:36:15 AM »
I certainly don't think EVERYTHING pundit wrote actually IS self-evident, and I certainly have problems with his logic. But I'm not out to correct his philosophy homework and point out all the places he's wrong. I also want to say where he's onto something, even if he hasn't expressed it quite right. Not everyone is strong at logic, but some people make up for it with really good heuristics.

Quote from: TristramEvans;870029
I would hope so, but I can't say 1) what kind of theory that is or 2) how one could possibly support that statement beyond the notion that if they weren't having fun, why would they do it? Which I suppose is the closest thing to self-evidence we're going to find in this post.


Yes, that's exactly it. "Fun" is entirely subjective. It isn't something that can be measured or directly observed. You can, however, observe what people do. That's not to say people can't be mistaken about what they think will bring them fun. There's even scientific jargon for this: Stated Preference vs Revealed Preference. Persistent popularity is a sign of revealed preference and it says more about what gamers actually find fun than any intensive study involving opinion polls ever could.

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Highly unlikely. Hence the vast, vast outpouring of independent games, heartbreakers, etc.


This is not valid counter-evidence to Pundit's claim. Again. There can be a divide between what people "think" will be fun and what they find actually "is" fun. Where's the popularity? Where's the persistency?

He's not saying nobody genuinely has fun doing something else. Me personally, I don't much care for the direction D&D has gone, and I've moved onto another system as my main go-to game, and it's been my go-to for 15 years now, so it's not just a horrible mistake. We actually have more fun with this other game. That doesn't mean I'm going to bias myself to the point of ignoring reality.

If anything, the vast outpouring has provided a natural experiment. One would think, just by dumb luck, that just one game of the vast outpouring would have unseated D&D by now. You can't say "Well, D&D is just the name most people know because it was first." If that were a valid argument, we wouldn't be googling things. We'd be yahooing them. And I'm willing to bet if I walked into a con where I didn't know anybody, I'd have a better chance of getting a start-up game going with old school AD&D than I would with some random "modern" game. There's something to D&D that has staying power.

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Most people being people who don't play RPGs. Of course, what "D&D" means to someone is completely up in the air, since its a brand name attached to a variety of disparate systems, some only tentatively connected by theme and a few catchphrases. A person who plays OD&D is not likely to offer a definition of RPGs thats the same as someone who plays AD&D, let alone 4th edition D&D.


And this is what makes Pundit's conclusions so strong. Yes, a person playing OD&D could view things differently from someone who plays AD&D. And AD&D had a pretty big fan divide back in the day between 1st Ed and 2nd Ed. Here's the thing. They're all basically the same rules. Second only to my new go-to game is AD&D 1st Ed. But I have a huge D&D collection that spans from OD&D and includes AD&D 2nd Ed as well. I can use it all together in the same game. That's the breadth and flexibility that D&D offers. That's it's strength.

I find it unfortunate that 3E and onward is no longer backwards compatible with older editions. That was the deal-breaker for me. If I'm going to learn a whole new system and render my old collection useless, I'm going to shop around for a new game. I found one I liked better, so I'm not a D&D player anymore. I imagine a lot of people went through something similar. And yet still D&D remains the #1 game.

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Counter-intuitive to the extreme. Apparently this means "financial success", in which case the majority of games that most resemble D&D have largely been huge financial failures, with only a few exceptions such as Pathfinder. And there's no reason "successful-design should be equated with financial success or popularity.


Ehh.. you're straying from reality here. How else would you measure successful design if not by whether people actually want to play it or would pay good money for it? Are we supposed to use some strictly academic measure? Or some other "objective" set standards?

The financial failures of D&D wannabees (and the success of Pathfinder) seem  perfectly explainable from the "big tent" thesis of broader, more inclusive play. Speaking for myself, I want to add content to my library. Not re-invent the wheel. If a D&D wannabee gives me the same monsters, magic, treasure, and potential for adventure as D&D, why the hell would I want to learn a whole new system just to do the same damn thing? If instead, the D&D wannabee uses the exact same system but gives me new monsters, magic, treasure and new potentials for adventure, I've already got my credit card out.

Yes, part of being successful also means doing the legwork. You could create the perfect RPG, but if all you do is sit in your basement just waiting for the world to recognize your genius, you'll be waiting a long, long time. This is also reasonable in the world of RPGs since a huge part of the value of a game is having people to play with (another fact that favors the big tent thesis). If you go out and actively "market" and get people playing, you're adding value to the RPG. But that only works out in the long term if the RPG is actually good enough for people to want to continue playing.

I'm going to cut my response short there for time management reasons. I will say that one thing you call baseless assumption I consider to be inescapable conclusion. That will have to come some other time. Pundit maybe didn't spell out the case in the best way, but his heuristics are working pretty well.

Onix

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #92 on: August 26, 2016, 04:28:20 PM »
I don't ask this to be a pain, I ask because I tend to get myself in trouble if I don't clarify things for myself.

I'm confused about how this subforum is intended to work. This thread seems to encourage a discussion of not Forge theory and gives landmarks for the playing field (which I can accept playing in), but the description of the subforum says "no theory".

That could mean that the forum is okay with discussing theory only in an RPG that a poster is currently working on. It also might mean "NO THEORY" and only specific questions about mechanics are allowed.

For example, I'd like to ask the community here how many of them played the basic rules of D&D (or any other games) when they first started. I think it may be important to the history of RPG but if everyone skipped them, then maybe it wasn't. That plays into how I should design any game. I may be tripping over the NO THEORY line there though.

Xanther

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« Reply #93 on: August 27, 2016, 08:55:44 AM »
Quote from: Onix;915590
I....For example, I'd like to ask the community here how many of them played the basic rules of D&D (or any other games) when they first started. I think it may be important to the history of RPG but if everyone skipped them, then maybe it wasn't. That plays into how I should design any game. I may be tripping over the NO THEORY line there though.


I started with the three brown books, OD&D 1976 version, and then soon onto AD&D.  The OD&D rules, and AD&D as well actually, were skeletal.  That is they covered some basics but did intend or attempt to cover everything.  The rules were never originally sold as "complete," although Gygax would later change his tune on that; I think mainly for business reasons.   In comparison, OD&D were old brown bones, and AD&D polished white bones.  AD&D had more stuff (and more ad hoc sub-systems) but still the same basic rules.

The rules were also disorganized, bits and pieces spread out here and there throughout the books.  

What this led to was people naturally put flesh on the bones of the skeleton when situations arose that were not covered by the rules.  They made rulings, then wrote those down to be consistent, and thus they became rules.  Just like the common law system. :)  Some DMs just disallowed any action they didn't have a clear rule for...covering their inability to think with mumblings of by the book.

The disorganized nature of rules meant some were just missed or even dismissed as not important given their placement.  Initiative, surprise, parrying, weapon speeds, the weight of magical armor, etc.  Things spread out or discussed in a manner that made them seem an aside.  When faced with this people typically took the basic first and easiest to find rule and ignore the special cases.   So there were a lot of rules that were never used as written and a lot of rules that got crafted to put flesh on the skeleton.  A very DIY spirit is my recollection.
 

Onix

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Notice:Landmarks of Gaming Theory
« Reply #94 on: August 27, 2016, 12:05:32 PM »
Quote from: Xanther;915674
I started with the three brown books, OD&D 1976 version
Thanks Xanther, I'll put out a poll and a thread for discussing first games later once I get a response from an official source. I hope you repost this there!

In the mean time, I could just post a general poll and not explicitly link it to game design in the general RPG forum. . .

Xanther

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« Reply #95 on: October 23, 2017, 10:42:58 PM »
My late night epiphany, D&D (and it's ilk) work because people love gambling.   At the casino you risk money, strategically place your bets, and win or lose.   In D&D you have your HP and spells, you choose your tactics and your character could die or could win xp and gold.   D&D is kind of like craps, lots of bets (tactics) on the table.  

Some "theory"  games hate the risk, because they hate losing or uncertainty, but I say without risk it's not a game just a literary exercise.   Some "theory" games don't like the confusion, just too many choices, they prefer slots, still risk but no tactics, rather just lots of bells, whistles and lights.