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Author Topic: Design phase and run phase  (Read 3926 times)
Callan S.
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« on: December 20, 2004, 11:55:25 PM »

I was PM'ing Vincent recently, and rambled on about something in regards to the A Design Checklist for FitM Conflict Resolution Rules

You might want to skip down, as I boil down this quote below and it might be more useful to read latter.

Quote
Were looking at design here and how to make rules for managing contributions toward the design goal.

So normally rules might be Add 5 to Y, if it's above 10 then you hit and go to so and so rules, etc, etc.

This is the sort of thing we decide to accept as players (well, assuming the game doesn't piss us off and we quit right then and there). Basically the system has resolved the event, with our permission (well, permission and we do the grunt work of doing the math).

When were looking at marrying user contribution to rules, this is where I'm seeing the odd bit. The rules can't apply any resolution to what is introduced...they just can't really. You can supply guidelines for people to make their own descisions by, but this is really a very different species of 'system does matter' compared to 'add 5 to Y, if its above 10 then...etc' system does matter. Basically if, for example, no on in the group wanted to resolve for themselves if this input goes into the game, play would freeze right then. This sort of thing doesn't happen of course (well, usually doesn't), but the game rules don't get the game past these threasholds at all, since they can't make users descisions for them.

In a way its a system doesn't matter point where the rules say 'Well, weve mattered as much as we can and here's some guidelines...its up to you to get us through now, captain! Get us through so we can begin mattering some more...'

Also I think there is still the standard approval to go through as well. Like if you've decided the value of Y (a basic sort of contribution) and its '5 + Y, if its above 10 you pass and etc' you then need to accept what the system then goes and does with your contribution. Before when the system determine Y, you were just accepting this or quit playing. Now you have to judge if this system is looking after yours or someone elses contribution.

Mostly random musings I suppose. Read with care. :)


Latter I also remembered Social Contract and Automation

And basically the above rambling quote boiled down to an idea: two phases, one a design phase and one a run(or play) phase.

I don't know if its already big and obvious to everyone, or even too small and trivial to mention. The idea is: Actual play in RP can be split into two very distinct phases, both which require significantly different social approaches. Like really, really different...I'm clawing for technical terms here, obviously.

To illustrate what I mean by play and run phases, imagine your using a map editor, which many computer games have.

Now, your in the edit phase. You've planted the PC figure on the screen (some forrest scene, whatever). Now, you look at your menu of monsters, and decide on one, then click and drag the monster over. So far, so good...of course your just in the editing phase, so it doesn't do anything and you could even remove it again if you wanted.

Now, you want to see how this goes. Just say you can hit run in this editor and the game engine now kicks in. Now the game engine is deciding the values, like the monster moving in on its turn. It's also deciding what choices you have...you do choose what your PC does, but you choose from the choices it grants you.

What's interesting is if you don't have one guy sitting in front of the game editor, but instead several guys. One guy may be in the seat, but the others are constantly talking to him or cooking up ideas amongst them, and sometimes they'll nudge the current guy out of his seat because they can't quite describe what they want, they have to implement it themselves.

Now also imagine that this group doesn't allow for many 'do overs', once run is hit. Once you've entered the run phase, you keep what happens from a run...you don't reset scenes, for example. But although everyone agrees with no do overs, switching over to the edit phase at any time during a run is not really a problem with anyone.

I'm just imagining two very different social approaches for the two phases, but none the less switches dramatically whenever the phase changes. You might think of it like going from being a bunch of gods in the clouds deciding the shape of the maze the mortals run, to being that group of mortals. The god and mortal groups both interact in pretty dramatically different ways. Perhaps a gamism example might be where the group is in the edit phase and mutually agree some trolls would be good and proper...then hit the run phase and mercylessly (because the system encourages it), use the trolls strengths against the other players to get the upper hand and win the most.

Questions:
1. A valid distinction?
2. If so, how important is it for describing how to play a game. For example, if you accept the edit phase as being there, then how do you treat IIEE? What can look like IIEE is actually an editing phase action.

Basically, does this simple distinction have big ramifications for how you describe play in your game. After all, one of them isn't actually playing (even though for many users, it's vital to their play)
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TonyLB
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2004, 06:23:38 AM »

I think you've got a valid distinction on the level of techniques, but not on the level of CA.

A group deciding that trolls are appropriate is in Director Stance.  When they're playing the trolls mercilessly (except, one presumes, where trolls would actually show mercy) they're in Actor Stance.  In both cases they can be pursuing a Gamist CA (though talking about that at either the technique level or in hypothetical is a minor category error).

In terms of the social dynamic, you seem to be talking about whether players are competitive, in the moment, or not.  What do you make of games (like Universalis or Capes) where scene setting is just as competitive as (or more competitive than) playing out the scene itself?
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lumpley
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« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2004, 11:06:29 AM »

Callan, yes.

What I'd suggest is going back through some of what I've written or others have written about RPG design, looking for places where that's what we were talking about. We didn't use those words, but that's what we were talking about.

Quote
What can look like IIEE is actually an editing phase action.

Even better, what I mean by "IIEE" and what you mean by "editing phase action" are the same thing. Or pieces of the same thing, or related to the same thing. Read what I've written about IIEE, like here, and you'll see that I've been talking about the transition from editing phase to run phase.

If I understand you correctly.

-Vincent
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2004, 04:13:50 PM »

Okay, I've left the idea too broad. Everyone can see editing phase in something like the GM writing notes before a game (which often face further editing once the group comes into contact) and then get run during the session.

I think what I meant to talk about is where rules DEMAND you go into the editing phase. I just didn't say it clearly.

I'll begin on poor footing with what may be a contentious example: Alignments (I'm crossing my fingers hoping I don't start another long winding thread)

Now, say I'm alignment 'nice' and the book says that 'nice' characters never do anything naughty.

What the hell is naughty? I'm looking at this as a direct call to hit the editing phase, where the group 'edits' in what they think this means. I think there is a great deal of ambiguity here...some would argue that, but I mean in contrast to something like 5 + 5 = 10. Compared to that, its ambiguous...it's not answered by something like that, it requires hitting the edit phase.

Something less contentious might be 'You roll 1D20 to attack, plus 5. Minus 1 to 4 points for any negative circumstances'. This last bit is important, as its another demand to hit the editing phase...what does everyone think in terms of what amount of penalty should be involved? Until that is answered, the run in frozen solid in place.

Now, I think I screwed up with the IIEE question before and Vincent set me straight.

Instead, try this on. That above example of how to do an attack roll. Presumably Intent has been called, its been Initiated, the Execution has come up and wait a second. Execution can't end until we have that penalty worked out. But didn't we already leave the editing phase (leaving it started with the Initiation, I'm guessing). But now were back at the editing phase, even though were not done!

What I'm suggesting is basically one IIEE 'nested' inside another IIEE. Determining the penalty doesn't call on the books rules, but it does call on System rules, so I think its fair to treat it as another IIEE (or so I'm ready to debate).

Naturally, from here you can see that multiple nested IIEE in each other can happen. I think that while this can be okay, it is more likely to be pure hell (I'll give some rough examples if you want). Now while this editing phase and run phase are basically just a part of IIEE (I see this now), what I really wanted to get at was the idea of making clear distinction between when one is editing and one is running, when your writing the text for your games. I now just see a lot of problems solved by this important distinction. This is more just a visualisation device and design advice (like Mike's standard rant on combat systems).

Perhaps it might seem like the sort of advice already taken by many, but I'm certain I've seen quite a few designs go past here on the forge which have (looking at it this way now) nesting issues.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2004, 04:54:35 PM »

I'm not seeing the similarity between your example now ("Judge what number, between 1 and 4, is merited for a given in-game circumstance") and your earlier example ("Declare that there will be a bunch of trolls to be encountered").  They seem wildly divergent, in terms of techniques, game purpose and social context.  Can you explain what the common thread is?
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M. J. Young
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2004, 09:57:55 PM »

Quote from: Callan, I agree with this that you
I'm just imagining two very different social approaches for the two phases, but none the less switches dramatically whenever the phase changes. You might think of it like going from being a bunch of gods in the clouds deciding the shape of the maze the mortals run, to being that group of mortals. The god and mortal groups both interact in pretty dramatically different ways.

Quote from: But I'm disagreeing with this part that you
After all, one of them isn't actually playing (even though for many users, it's vital to their play)

It is fairly well established that all play is creation of events within the shared imagined space, and all creation of events within the shared imagined space is play.

This is distinct from the referee preparing the scenario in advance in this sense: he is not really contributing anything to the shared imaginary space at that time, but is rather preparing an authoritative document or resource to which he will refer later to give himself credibility in creating those elements in the shared imagined space when play commences.

If as a group the players are deciding what the reality is, even if that group participation amounts to one of them at that moment making a decision concerning what it should be under these circumstances and the rest conceding the point, then the creation of those aspects of the game is part of play--it created something in the shared imagined space, even if it did it the long way around.

Your modifier example is good for this. The authority (the rule book) says that to resolve whether the attack is successful, you roll d20, add 5, and subtract from one to four points for any negative circumstances. Citing the authority of the rules gives someone credibility to assess a penalty of up to four points for negative circumstances; that's usually the referee, but it wouldn't have to be (depending on what the authority states). The dice are then rolled, and someone looks at the dice and cites the roll as an authority to give credibility to the statement that the character hit or missed.

One part of the confusion comes in the fact that someone is assessing a penalty in mechanical terms which does not appear to alter the shared imagined space. However, it does: it defines it. The referee says, "The fact that you are shooting at the guy behind the wall means there's a penalty, and I'm assessing three points against you for that" means that a moment ago we knew that the guy was behind a wall, but now we know that he's behind the wall sufficiently that he's three points harder to hit than he would be were he in the open. We might each translate that differently in terms of what we see, but we all now embrace that as the definition of how much protection the wall gives him. The shared imagined space has become more clearly defined by that statement.

To clarify that, it could be that the referee would say
Quote
The target is standing behind a wall. According to my notes, the target is five feet nine inches tall and the wall is five feet tall, so he has to crouch to get full benefit; he also has to reach out to fire back at you. The wall is also made of wood, which has X protective value, and it's two inches thick, so we calculate that to derive a cover value giving him a benefit of three points against your attacks, so we subtract three from your roll.
That is, we could derive the three point penalty by a complex calculation if we desired, and that calculation would inherently require a more specific definition of the scene. Instead, in your example, someone estimates the penalty, and everyone works backwards from that to imagine how it might be that this wall provides that much protection.

So it's all about defining and altering the shared imagined space, and thus it all really is play, even if it is more the creative/definitive aspect rather than the alterating aspect of play.

--M. J. Young
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Callan S.
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« Reply #6 on: December 22, 2004, 06:12:51 PM »

Hi Tony,

The rules instruct the users to resolve both. I'd say the divergence your seeing in where it's happening is part of the 'nesting' problem. It's a demand for user resolution/editing, being planted in all sorts of places...really it can happen anywhere and sometimes that means they nest in each other/stack up.

Hi M.J.,

I agree creation is play, but don't agree the deciding process is play. For example, deciding what game to play in the first place. Or arguing for ten minutes whether it should be a -4 or -3 penalty. Both are editing decisions in progress and I don't count them as play.

Deciding and decision/creation often blur until they seem merged, but I think the argument example shows they are always distinctly seperate (naturally the argument involved didn't change anything about that). Am I missing something about those ten minutes? I only see a game frozen in place until someone creates that penalty and its mutually accepted.
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