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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 134 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [InSpectres demo] Solo play  (Read 5901 times)
Filip Luszczyk
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« on: April 20, 2006, 11:26:38 AM »

Few weeks ago, while reading InSpectres demo it occured to me that the game could theoretically be played alone. And I tried it. All in all, it was fun and interesting experiment.

Not counting a number of "choose your own way" books, my only experience with solo gaming was a bunch of AD&D 2nd edition dungeons, which I played around six or so years ago. This time it wasn't possible for me to simply reduce the gameplay to a series of combats without any story in the background.

I created a simple "GM-emulator": I rolled two d4's, one of which was red. They determined which skills I could use to deal with the next problem, and then on the basis of that roll I decided on the specifics of the next problem I was going to face. Then, I've been coming up with some way to deal with the problem, rolling the dice and deciding on the outcome using the table from the demo. Then, I rolled 1d3-1 to establish the base stress pool, increased it by 1 if I used the skill indicated by red d4, and by another 1 or 2 if i failed miserably.

I created the character and established the initial situation (actually, expecting that I'll finish the mission after five minutes of easy rolling, without any actual work on my side - it turned out not so). So, my plumber Mario had been asked by his cousin from the mafia to help him rescue his Italian pals abducted by Haitians. In short, Mario arrived at their hide-out, unsuccessfully tried bluff the sentry and get inside passing as a plumber hired by their boss, managed to make the gangster come out of the building by damaging the boiler. Then survived an attack of zombies created from the corpses of his Italian friends, and rescued last living Italian Luigi from mad Haitian shaman's lab (well, at least he rescued most of Luigi). After half an hour of playing I had to withdraw and give up the mission, since almost all of my skills were severely reduced by stress. If I had more luck (my rolls simply sucked all the time) and/or used more than one character, I could probably play another half hour before I would finish.

Now, it was actually quite fun. Not only this GM-emulation thing gave me opportunities to think tactically, but also this and the InSpectres mechanics fueled my imagination and gave me a good foundation on which I could build a fun story. Often I had to intensely think of some good solutions for the problems at hand, that I could use with the skill options available (not to mention creating the problems that would match these options rolled). Then, I had to imagine what happens on the basis of the results of the skill roll - and in this matter entries from the InSpectres table such as "success with humorous complication" helped me very much. It is interesting, that the table lets the players describe their chosen complications - in fact, I could use it as written without any need for a GM. The dice led me to many ideas I wouldn't otherwise come up with, and surprisingly not everything went as I expected. My own story had been continuously surprising me!

And stress rolls, which I made after every problem I dealt with, continuously heated up the atmosphere and made me think intensely in order to manage my skills optimally. Which I apparently failed to do, but fun it was anyway.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2006, 10:19:01 AM »

You people never fail to amaze me. First it was My Little Pony InSpectes. Now this.

Write up the "rules" for solo play and I'll put 'em up on the site.


- J, PS, you're a nutjob
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
JMendes
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« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2006, 09:36:17 PM »

Hey, all, :)

Well, if AP posts are supposed to be gateway into theory, then here's me crossing that gateway. I want to throw this on the table for consideration:

Can this be considered role-playing?

Filip, this is your thread, so if you want, I'll shut up, of course. Or, you could just give us your answer. :)

Cheers,
J.
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url=http://lisbongamer.mc-two.com/]Lisbon Gamer[/urlLisbon Gamer
Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2006, 03:16:11 AM »

Jared:

Quote
Write up the "rules" for solo play and I'll put 'em up on the site.

I used InSpectres demo only and I'm not familiar with the complete game - so my rules may not apply too well. If you want, make use of my ideas from the first post.

Anyway, lately I've been thinking about writing something similar, intended for solo play only, but a bit more complex.

Quote
- J, PS, you're a nutjob

Trying my best :)

JMendes:

Quote
Can this be considered role-playing?

Ah, good question. There definitely was exploration, since I've been imagining all those things up. Let's see:

-System - That's clear. I used InSpectres demo mechanics, plus some additional rules (establishing a problem on the basis of two d4 rolls, establishing solution to the problem, establishing what happens on the basis of standard InSpectres skill check, establishing the consequences using stress roll, repeat).

-Setting - Sure there was a setting. Unspecified city, Haitians hideout and all.

-Character - Well, I had a character, he had all those stats, I've even gave him some personality ;)

-Situation - Yup, the whole point of "GM emulator" was to provide some basis for establishing it.

-Color - no comments ;)

And I've been using mainly author and director stance. I played in silence and all declarations were internalized, but it was a mixture of IC/OOC. My decisions were mostly gamist (I think - actually it's hard for me to say if there was some sim, or possibly nar, in it).

So, it's definitely possible to describe it as role-playing in theory terms. The fact that I've been creating a sequence of imagined events and making decisions about the doings of my character, using some rules to provide a frame, makes it RP for me. Of course, it's by no means a standard play. The question is - was I breaching the line between RP and something else - and if so, with what?

Thoughts?
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greyorm
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« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2006, 07:51:56 AM »

If you want, make use of my ideas from the first post.

Filip, I would love to do this, because this is totally cool, but unfortunately some of the rules you describe above are not clear to me. For example, what was the significance of one of the d4's being red?
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
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JMendes
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« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2006, 09:31:48 AM »

Hey, :)

System - That's clear. I used InSpectres demo mechanics, plus some additional rules

Mmmmnonono, that's not system. Wait, that's wrong. I don't know that that's system.

You see, Character Setting, Situation, Color, techniques, stances agendas, I'm down with all of those in your play. They certainly surprised me, but yeah, I'm down.

But, you see, lumpley principle: System is the way the group agrees to the imaginary events.

Now, I (think I)'m down with group per se. A group of one is still a group. Isn't it?

What I don't see is the "agrees" part, the negotiation part, so to speak, because I don't know that it's possible to negotiate with yourself, and I'm very much down with the "fundamental act of role-playing is negotiated imagination" party line. Let me put it this way. In play, did you, Filip, ever:

1) Called yourself on something? ("No, Filip, that's bullshit, that could never happen like that", "you're right, of course, Filip, rather, it was like this")

2) Tentatively agreed with yourself on something? ("Well, Filip, I don't see it right now, but yeah, go ahead", "ok, Filip, see, this is how it goes", "oh, ok")

3) Other forms of negotiation that I can't quite word right now...?

If so, then, yes and, well... WOW! What can I say, you've enlarged my understanding of what an RPG is.

If not, then, well, not so much, no. There was no "system". There were rules, but that's not the same thing. CRPGs have rules. In writing a character background, you can adhere to "rules". But neither of those is role-playing.

Cheers,
J.
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2006, 09:40:34 AM »

In play, did you, Filip, ever:

1) Called yourself on something? ("No, Filip, that's bullshit, that could never happen like that", "you're right, of course, Filip, rather, it was like this")

2) Tentatively agreed with yourself on something? ("Well, Filip, I don't see it right now, but yeah, go ahead", "ok, Filip, see, this is how it goes", "oh, ok")

I used to solo play quite a lot, and I certainly did those things. But then, I could see myself doing those things while writing a story too, so I'm not sure what it says.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2006, 04:21:52 AM »

greyorm:

Quote
Filip, I would love to do this, because this is totally cool, but unfortunately some of the rules you describe above are not clear to me. For example, what was the significance of one of the d4's being red?

I used d4 rolls to decide which skills I'll be able to use in dealing with the next problem. Red d4 indicated less optimal way, e.g. connected with more risk. After choosing red d4 I added one die to the stress roll. That way, there were three possibilities:

-The same result on each d4 - only one way to solve the problem, and I've chosen non-red d4 of course.
-Red result less optimal - rather obvious choice, since less risky solution was the optimal one at the same time.
-Red result more optimal - a tough choice, since I could get better chance of success, but with more risk of stress at the same time.

That way there were some significant mechanical choices for me - not every time, but sometimes I had difficult dilemmas.

BTW, in the stress roll after each problem I used a pool of (d3-1)d6, +1d6 if I used the red d4 option, +1d6 if I failed my check with the result of "2", or +2d6 if I failed with "1". That way I've been getting stress pools from 0 (no stress roll) to 5, as was suggested in the demo. Actually it turned out that it was a bit too much, but then, maybe that's only because of my bad luck. Another solution could be using base stress pool dependent on the amount of story tokens gathered (e.g. for 10 tokens mission: 0d6 base stress for 0-3 tokens, 1d6 base stress for 4-6 tokens and 2d6 stress for 7+ tokens).

I'll probably try once again soon, maybe it gives me some new ideas.

JMendes:

Quote
But, you see, lumpley principle: System is the way the group agrees to the imaginary events.

OK, thanks for reminding me of this.

Quote
Now, I (think I)'m down with group per se. A group of one is still a group. Isn't it?

So I think.

Quote
What I don't see is the "agrees" part, the negotiation part, so to speak, because I don't know that it's possible to negotiate with yourself, and I'm very much down with the "fundamental act of role-playing is negotiated imagination" party line. Let me put it this way. In play, did you, Filip, ever:

How I see it:

1.It's definitely possible to be in conflict with yourself. Everyone at least once stood before some inner dilemma I think.

2.Of course in this case the negotiation part is practically absent - but there is an agreement, usually an automatic one.

3.It's possible for a group to automatically agree on everything. E.g. most of play in which GM has a total authority over everything - players usually just nod, whatever he says. The "negotiations" part is also omitted.

4.So basically in both cases it all boils down to an agreement that one person will have an authority for the rest of the play. I played with an assumption that I have the authority (actually, that the rules I established come first and then I'm in authority to interpret rolls on the story level). Then, I could just nod to everything the GM (that is me) says (or rather thinks), just as in illusionist play players nod to every word of the GM.

As for the specific questions, I'll try to answer as well as I can (but that is based on my memory of the experience, which I was not recording, so today I can't be 100% sure about everything):

Quote
1) Called yourself on something? ("No, Filip, that's bullshit, that could never happen like that", "you're right, of course, Filip, rather, it was like this")

There were moments in which I rejected the first thing that came to my mind, and had to think about some different change of situation or solution to the problem. And it was a good part of fun - establishing all the facts by choosing from many possibilities, not all of which were plausible for me after some consideration.

Quote
2) Tentatively agreed with yourself on something? ("Well, Filip, I don't see it right now, but yeah, go ahead", "ok, Filip, see, this is how it goes", "oh, ok")

I think so. There were moments were I just decided that "And now this happens..." and left the specific explanations for later. Then I somehow intuitively linked those loose facts (but it was after a while - originally such facts were not logically connected).

Quote
3) Other forms of negotiation that I can't quite word right now...?

Nothing I could word, as well ;)

Darren:

Quote
I used to solo play quite a lot, and I certainly did those things. But then, I could see myself doing those things while writing a story too, so I'm not sure what it says.

What I think about the playing/writing issue:

1.Story is a product of play. It's something that exists only in the transcript. I don't think it is possible to talk about the story before the session ends - up until that moment there are only events in progress (or there is a story, but still unfinished, like it were in the process of writing).

2.The act of writing a story is very similar to the act of playing. The only difference is that the goal of writing is the creation of the story, and the goal of playing is the creative act itself. In writing creative act is means, not ends. In RP it's ends.

So basically I think writing and playing can be very corresponding activities, in terms of what a person actually does. The difference is that you usually write alone, and in order to create the story - while in RP it's group activity, and its main goal is the enjoyment of the process.

Just my thoughts anyway.
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JMendes
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« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2006, 12:13:37 PM »

Ahey, :)

Oh. Wow...

There were moments in which I rejected the first thing that came to my mind, and had to think about some different change of situation or solution to the problem. And it was a good part of fun - establishing all the facts by choosing from many possibilities, not all of which were plausible for me after some consideration.
--//--
There were moments were I just decided that "And now this happens..." and left the specific explanations for later. Then I somehow intuitively linked those loose facts (but it was after a while - originally such facts were not logically connected).

It's debatable whether this actually constitutes negotiation... But, you know what? You think it does. And. I freakin' agree with you.

Do you realize what this means?

You've actually succeeded in playing a role-playing game solo!!!

This is so fucking wild it isn't even funny!

I hope Vincent and Ron and all the other theorists are reading this, because in my mind, this is an awesome breakthrough!

Thanks for sharing and clarifying. I'll shut up now. :)

Cheers,
J.
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Filip Luszczyk
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2006, 04:32:58 AM »

Quote
It's debatable whether this actually constitutes negotiation... But, you know what? You think it does. And. I freakin' agree with you.

It certainly is debatable. There was an inner dialogue anyway, and I've been communicating some things to myself, sometimes arguing with myself. I think that's enough.

But it may just as well be one of those activities that border with actual RP. It could be debated endlessly I think, but it all boils down to how broadly one defines RPG for himself. For me it is a very broad term and I personally consider e.g. children play (Indians & Cowboys and the like) and some applications of computer games to be basically the same kind of activity as more "conscious" and formalized RPG practised in "RPG fans communities".

Quote
I hope Vincent and Ron and all the other theorists are reading this, because in my mind, this is an awesome breakthrough!

I don't think so - solo play is actually nothing new. If I'm correct, some games actually encouraged it (e.g. Mythic RPG, which I'm not familiar with apart from demo that can be found on rpg.now - I recall reading some AP from Mythic solo play here at the Forge; also in DeProfundis there was a section on so called "samotnia", which elaborated about solo play). Also, I've seen some topics about Kanthe, a dungeon crawl intended for solo play.

Still, not much thought has been devoted to solo play theory. And it may be worth development - also in terms of game design theory.

Hmm... lately I've been reading GNS essays once again in preparation for theory panel on convention this weekend. And I've been thinking about this topic - how it surprisingly fits in the theory, save for its strong stress on the activity being social, proceeding through communication between many people. This is probably the only thing that can be argued - whether it applies just as well to solo activity.
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Darren Hill
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2006, 04:55:46 AM »

Traveller was another RPG that supported solo play.
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