*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
July 31, 2014, 05:32:53 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 81 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Author Topic: Can a game designer work for all three (G/N/S)?  (Read 8828 times)
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« on: September 10, 2002, 05:42:53 AM »

I'm new to this forum.  New to game design.  Been playing RPG's for longer than I'd care to admit - well, okay, since Chainmail.

First off, Ron's GNS essay was very well thought out, and provides a great functionalization of terms for the purposes of discussing game design.  I, for one, much appreciate the effort that went into it.

My question or challenge: Can a game design support all three modes?  Is it possible to successfully and equally reward/encourage all three modes in a single game, in the humble opinions of the forum participants?

I get the sense that the answer is no - but correct me if I'm wrong.

Couldn't a game include a sort of 'player pick your own reward system' that would allow the primarly Narrativist player more control and/or encourage/enable him to play in the Director/Author stance, while simultaneously offering the primarily Simulationist encouragement and proivde him rewards for playing in the Actor stance? And so on...

The reason I ask this question - it seems to me that Ron's essay, and the whole premise of G/N/S assumes that a person with a primarily Narrativist interest cannont play well with a person with a primarily Gamist interest or with a person who is primarly interested in Simulationism.  This has not been my experience.
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2002, 06:18:44 AM »

Hi there,

Welcome to the Forge!

This question has been asked before, as you can imagine I'm sure. The main men to suffer and struggle with it the most are:

Mike Holmes, co-author/designer of Universalis
M.J. Young, co-author/designer of Multiverser
Fang Langford, co-author/designer of Scattershot

You can see in the titles of their games the effort to include as much variety of application as possible, and I strongly recommend visiting the relevant forums and websites, as well as entering into dialogues with them.

Your suggestion about reward systems, for instance, is right in line with Rules Gimmicks for Universalis and some of the neat Experience Dice (so-called) approaches in Scattershot.

I've participated in literally years of GNS discussion with these folks (less in Fang's case, but equally meaty). I think the main insight, and correct me if I'm wrong, gentlemen, comes in two parts:

1) ... that a game that includes a customizable mechanism or potential to focus play in a GNS sense without breaking the system is certainly possible. Fang coined the word "Transition" to describe the behavior and associated game design.

2) ... that all three modes of play are not possible for a given person at a given time, and that systems attempting to promote this goal (usually with say a Simulationist event-resolution, Gamist reward system, and semi-Narrativist metagame context) tend to break down quickly.

[I mildly also suggest that even a "twosie" combination in design tends to let one of the two "horses" do most of the driving.]

Some other threads to check out include:
GNS and "congruency" and pretty much anything else featuring input by Walter (wfreitag)
Different goals at different scales of play
Model proposition

And just in case, Seven major misconceptions about GNS.

Can anyone help me find the stuff about the "atomic" discussion of GNS decisions? That seems right in line with the issues being raised.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Valamir
Member

Posts: 5574


WWW
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2002, 06:29:48 AM »

Dramatism, what is it

I think is the thread you were looking for.
Logged

deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2002, 06:32:54 AM »

Yes,

As I've been trolling the Forge forums over the last couple of hours, I've begun to answer my own question - to an extent.

I understand that the premise of G/N/S explicitly states that most players are going to prefer one of the modes for any given instance - and in fact will probably skew toward one of the three modes most of the time and enjoy games that support that mode more than games that don't.

I guess the problem I'm having may be one of experience.  I've been playing with the same group for ~10 years now, and we've got representatives of all three prefered modes of play.

Yet we usually manage to have gaming experiences that, on balance, are satisfying for everyone involved.  Not that each experience is as satisfying for each player - but that on balance we seem to have unconsciously incorporated enough elements from all three modes of play that each mode had it's 'moment' during the session.

I'm in the beginning stages of designing my own game system (which is what brought me to the Forge in the first place).

The system heavily supports Narrative styles of play, with a strong secondary focus on Simulationist styles of play (a so-called hybrid).  Would it be worth my time to pick up copies of the games you mentioned in order to see how to handle this issue of 'transition'?

I'll check out the threads you highlighted.  Thanks again for the reply.
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2002, 06:36:26 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Dramatism, what is it

I think is the thread you were looking for.


Valamir,  thanks for the link.  I really do know how to use the search feature, I was just impatient and lazy.  I read the G/N/S essay just recently and it started a lot of unbidden thinking - and I wanted my answers *NOW* rather than having to work for them.

In any event, thanks for the link, I'll check it out.
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2002, 06:41:19 AM »

To extend a bit on what Ron is saying, lets look at the systems he mentioned.

Multiverser was the first of these, and MJ, early on, claimed that his design encouraged all three simultaneously. I cannot remember the full course of the discussion, but his argument had to do with the ingenious structure of the game which the players switch worlds when they die (hence the title). In any case, it's the only case that I know of where anyone has suggested that the Setting (or metasetting in this case) was designed to accomplish this functionally.

OTOH, there were a lot of people who said that in fact it was mostly just Sim with touches of the other two modes. As always with these things it's a matter of perespective. But I while I don't think that MJ's game actually promotes all three at any one time (generally thought to be impossible), it's structure certainly does offer oportunities to do any of the three at different times. Such that if you don't mind small doses of certain modes (or like all three as I do), you will definitely enjoy the game. From that POV. I can't speak to the mechanics in action, as I have not actually played.

Next we have Fang's long standing project, Scattershot. His theory is that by allowing people to tweak the reward mechanic in use, that they can select play that is in whatever mode they want. When this is done by changing the rules in other systems this is called "drift" (as one is drifting away from the mode supported by the rules as written). Since this is a designed mechanic in Scattershot, Fang came up with a new term for it, Transition. That is, the game Transitions to the player's desired mode by use of the rules instead of their replacement (or ommission as is often the case in drift). The effectiveness of this has yet to be seen, however, as the game is still incomplete. Though the rules to enable the Transition are mostly done (and seem to make some sense), only inthe context of the game as a whole will we be able to see whether it will work or not.

But the thory exists, and seems to make sense.

And finally the game written by Ralph Mazza and myself, Universalis. All this game does is facilitate rules changes in play. Which means that, yes, if you can create a rule that will facilitate a mode of play (and people do), that you can Drift the game to where you like. I say this is still Drift, as the rules only facilitate the change, and it's the change that creates the effect (not the facilitating rule). As such I wouldn't say that the game can Transition, but that it legitimizes and empowers Drift to such an extent that the effect is much like Transition. In fact, as we post add-ons to the game, well thought out additions to the rules that you can plug in, the game gets closer and closer to beig Transitional, and has that effect n all but techniocal description (the actual mode supporting rules are not in the book, just the rules to adopt them).

That's about it. A lot of people who do not understand the modes odel well will claim that their game supports all three modes simultaneously (it's almost part of the definition that this is not possible). But they may have a true calim that their game has support for all three modes in an incoherant fashion. Whether or not this is an advantage or not is the subject of quite a bit of debate.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2002, 06:50:17 AM »

Hi there,

The three games I mentioned are excellent resources for a "customization" style design, in GNS terms. Scattershot tends to favor shifting toward Narrativism or Gamism in a nifty covert sort of way; Multiverser, in my view (not everyone's), tends to work from a strong Simulationist base; Universalis is a bit too wonky to summarize easily in this regard.

The game I'd recommend checking out first, though, is actually The Riddle of Steel. My GNS comments about it are available in my review. Even though I consider it a "successful hybrid" design, you can see really strong instances of both Narrativist and Simulationist Drift across all the discussions in its forum.

One dinky thing ... You wrote,
"it seems to me that Ron's essay, and the whole premise of G/N/S assumes that a person with a primarily Narrativist interest cannont play well with a person with a primarily Gamist interest or with a person who is primarly interested in Simulationism."

This actually doesn't represent my views or the essay's text very well at all. I'm pointing out a source of contention or dissatisfaction during play that does appear frequently - which is very different from (a) classifying humans 1:1 with GNS or (b) stating that such interests can never work together. "Coherence," as defined in the essay, does not mean "single GNS mode" - although I do contend that focusing on one mode is a pretty reliable way to be Coherent.

Another major issue at work is that GNS represents only one level in a multi-level model - what might be called the "Edwards Boxes RPG Thing." The biggest box is sociality at the most basic human leve; Exploration is the next box in, and included inside that is GNS. From there the whole thing shifts to "application" and we can start talking about standards & practices of specific play, which brings up rules and so forth.

The reason I'm mentioning this (and I can't find the thread in which I lay it out, except for the Seven Misconceptions one) is that people often think GNS alone is supposed to account for anything and everything to do with role-playing and its succcess or failure, which is not the case.

With that notion in mind, another thread that might be handy, with suitable warnings that it's a trifle dense, is GNS, transaction, and game design.

Best,
Ron
Logged
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2002, 07:51:21 AM »

Mike,

Thanks for the overview of the games.  They all sound interesting.

I've seen lots of press and reviews surrounding Universalis, and it looks like a very interesting, unique game.  I've checked out the website, and I'm still thinking about ordering the game.

Do either Multiverser or Scattershot have websites?
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2002, 07:56:31 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Hi there,


One dinky thing ... You wrote,
"it seems to me that Ron's essay, and the whole premise of G/N/S assumes that a person with a primarily Narrativist interest cannont play well with a person with a primarily Gamist interest or with a person who is primarly interested in Simulationism."

This actually doesn't represent my views or the essay's text very well at all. I'm pointing out a source of contention or dissatisfaction during play that does appear frequently - which is very different from (a) classifying humans 1:1 with GNS or (b) stating that such interests can never work together. "Coherence," as defined in the essay, does not mean "single GNS mode" - although I do contend that focusing on one mode is a pretty reliable way to be Coherent.

Another major issue at work is that GNS represents only one level in a multi-level model - what might be called the "Edwards Boxes RPG Thing." The biggest box is sociality at the most basic human leve; Exploration is the next box in, and included inside that is GNS. From there the whole thing shifts to "application" and we can start talking about standards & practices of specific play, which brings up rules and so forth.


Ron,

Thanks for the clarification.  I wasn't trying to suggest that G/N/S was designed or should be understood as a labeling tool for gamers.  As I understood the essay, gamers usually prefer one mode of play over the others - based on observation.  

It seems to me that the essay was also saying, at least implicitly, that when a player who favors one mode, and only one mode plays in a group with aother player who prefers a different mode - that either one or the other of them, or potentially both, will be dissatisfied with the experience.  

This dissatisfaction would arise, according to your framework, from the fact that each of these players is expecting the other player to play in accordance with the same mode they prefer.

Does that sound about right?
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
Ron Edwards
Global Moderator
Member
*
Posts: 16490


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2002, 08:14:31 AM »

Hey,

Yeah, that works for me. It's a commonly-observed outcome that the play group fractures based on these differing goals. "Common," however, doesn't mean "inevitable."

I suggest that when a GNS-diverse group does work well together, that there may well be compensating mechanisms going on, whether at the whole-social-group level, or at the rules-techniques level, or both.

For example, let's say that Gamist George and Narrativist Nguyen are in a group, and they like each other a lot. OK, first of all, it could be that "congruence" as Walt calls it, is going on - their expression of their preferences simply doesn't impinge on one another's own enjoyment, because they "translate" well in this particular case. George's jockeying for advantage feeds well into Nguyen's desire to address some Narrativist-style premise, and Nguyen's characters' actions tend to set George's up for neat strategy-sessions. All well and good. (Walt, correct me if I'm misrepresenting your ideas.) The compensation is mainly internal, in this case.

Second, it could be that social compensators are going on. George and Nguyen simply "back off" when the other person's goals are prevalent in play in a particular scene. All kinds of possible versions exist: let the other person shine and enjoying it as a spectator, participating in it in the "off" mode (ie Drifting briefly), or just taking time off and not Exploring much at the moment.

Third, it could be that the group has agreed, tacitly or otherwise, that the rules simply don't apply the same way to George and Nguyen. It could be the reward mechanics, or damage mechanics, or whatever. Everyone's cool with this and probably doesn't think twice about it, to the extent that they'll even claim that the game system "supports" the two modes of play.

#1-3 are of course compatible in varying degrees as well.

Of all the games I've played, Champions (especially 3rd edition with 2nd edition supplements, the mid-80s mode) is probably the king game for learning how to develop and implement solutions like the above. It doesn't surprise me at all that the early texts dealing with "player type" and similar issues arose in its supplements and fanzines.

And the final point: In my experience and observation, success in accomplishing any of the above is relatively rare, compared to fizzling and fracturing based specifically on GNS differences.

Best,
Ron
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2002, 09:14:57 AM »

Note Ron's "can happen" attitude, and not "must happen". There will often be cases of players who will be just fine playing with each other's different modes of play, without compensators. They are just very tolerant. Which is fine. As Ron has often said, you can't use GNS to solve a problem that doesn't exist. If your game works fine, then looking for GNS incompatibility is, of course, nonsensical.

GNS does not predict that problems with differing styles of play must occur, it just identifies the nature of thses sorts of problems when such exist.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
deadpanbob
Member

Posts: 201


WWW
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2002, 09:20:53 AM »

Quote from:

GNS does not predict that problems with differing styles of play must occur, it just identifies the nature of thses sorts of problems when such exist.

Mike[/quote


Mike,

Thanks.  Yet another good piece of easy-to-understand clarification.  It's clear that you all care about this stuff and have covered this ground well and before.

So the intent of using G/N/S within the context of design is to help with the issue of coherence, and most people here think that its tough to have a game that is both coherent and equally supportive of all three modes of play.

Also, G/N/S may be used to help identify and explicity talk about dissatisfaction within a gaming group - that may arise out of players differeing expectations vis a vis their preferred mode(s) of play.

This is good stuff.
Logged

"Oh, it's you...
deadpanbob"
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2002, 09:57:16 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
in GNS terms. Scattershot tends to favor shifting toward Narrativism or Gamism in a nifty covert sort of way;

S'funny, the Mechanix Ron's talking about are merely those designed primarily to 'spice up' Simulationism.  Their primary purpose is to become 'more important' when one wants Gamist or Narrativist play; especially to differentiate and keep these two other modes in their 'separate corners.'  When de-emphasized they function more as a 'critical hit table' replacement than anything else.

If I'm reading this right.

Otherwise, everything else everyone has written about Scattershot is spot on; thanks for the positive remarks all!

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2002, 11:01:07 AM »

Quote from: Ron
For example, let's say that Gamist George and Narrativist Nguyen are in a group, and they like each other a lot. OK, first of all, it could be that "congruence" as Walt calls it, is going on - their expression of their preferences simply doesn't impinge on one another's own enjoyment, because they "translate" well in this particular case. George's jockeying for advantage feeds well into Nguyen's desire to address some Narrativist-style premise, and Nguyen's characters' actions tend to set George's up for neat strategy-sessions. All well and good.


That's a very good description of congruence "in action," as long as the emphasis is on the "doesn't impinge" aspect. They definitional quality of congruence is that the players are not necessarily aware -- and in any case, are not being constantly reminded -- of how their goals differ. While it might appear to require a very unlikely juxtaposition of circumstances for the situation you describe to come about, it becomes less unlikely as constraints such as genre expectations are added.

For example, suppose they are indeed playing Champions. Nguyen's Premise is likely to be something relatively simple and traditional for the genre, such as, "What is the price of power?" Ngunen can regard George's character as a supporting character in Nguyen's character's story, who's simultaneously pursuing his own differently-styled story. And whatever happens to George's character is going to say something, however minor, about Nguyen's Premise. Meanwhile, George can regard Nguyen's play, when it deviates from maximizing effectiveness, as "playing the character's disads," as a way to garner more "good role playing EPs" to add to both characters' effectiveness.

Now, it's possible to imagine going beyond "not impinging" and have the players fully aware of each other's differing priorities but finding that they actually promote each other's goals this way. The George and Nguyen scenario as written could be interpreted that way. Let me add some detail in that direction. Suppose Nguyen finds that George's character's Gamist behavior makes him not just a tolerable supporting character of a type to be expected in the genre, but the perfect literary foil for Nguyen's, more so than if George were actively exploring a Narrativist Premise himeslf. Suppose George finds that Nguyen's Narrativist choices lead to more varied and interesting tactical challenges than they would if Nguyen too were jockeying for tactical advantage. This would no longer be congruence as I defined it; it would be some sort of functional transactional asymmetry.

This type of situation probably isn't as rare as it sounds at first glance, but it is challenging for the GM. For instance, Nguyen's character will be deprotagonized even in George's eyes if not afforder a certain amount of "script immunity" in order to focus on the Premise. George's character will be deprotagonized even in Nguyen's eyes if he is given script immunity. This leads directly to Ron's third option (which would be inimical to true congruence).

GMs probably don't often analyze this consciously (I certainly never did before coming to The Forge) but it would be interesting to ask typical GMs running typical incoherent systems with typical incoherent groups of players, and doing so with apparent success, the following question: Which of the player-characters in your game would it be OK to allow to get killed as a result of a random, fair, but unlucky die roll, and which would it not?" My hypothesis is that at least some of these GMs could and would give specific answers other than "any of them" or "none of them," due to awareness at some level of, and adaptation to, the players' different priorities.

- Walt
Logged

Wandering in the diasporosphere
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2002, 11:09:48 AM »

www.multiverser.com/

for Multiverser.

For Scattershot the only place that I know of that it's posted is here on the Forge in the Indie Games Forum section.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Pages: [1] 2 3 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!