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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 120 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Age-old Imponderables  (Read 5997 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« on: February 28, 2003, 09:50:19 AM »

Quoting Jason from another thread:
Quote
To list or not to list?

You're kind of fighting the impossible to answer question.

That was a good point. Over the years, I've encountered several "impossible to answer questions".

To restate Jason's question (which may not make sense out of context) and using his excellent example from the original thread, "Is it better to have a game like Hero where the rules system puts everything down in system terms, or is it better to enumerate everything in a system in terms of all that exists in the setting [say like the powers in V&V]?"

The advantages and disadvantages to both sides should jump out at the reader. There really is no way to come up with an answer for every game; the answer must remain, "All depends."

Another of these imponderables, one that I brought up lately, is, "Is it better to force players to role-play social interactions and puzzles, or instead to allow character abilities to make up for shortfalls in this area."

Another I remember is, "Is it better to have a system be less intrusive in terms of player activity, or should system be very visible so as to inform player activity."

There are lots more of these. But I'd like to see what other people have in terms of age-old debates that solutions of which always come down to, "It all depends," or "It's soley a matter of preference." I'm not interested in debating any of these on this thread. If you have an opinion on any of these questions please start a new thread on the subject (I suspect that this will probably happen). I'm just looking for more of these questions.

I think they're important, as is debating them in some ways. That is, a designer will come across these things in design without a doubt. And his response to the questions should be well-considered - they are hardly trivial questions. But it's also good to know that there are no "correct" answers to the questions, just sets of "if you do this, then", and other such advice.

So, who has a good example?

Mike
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clehrich
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2003, 10:49:08 AM »

Is immersion a desirable goal?

Is it important for historical-setting games to be founded on good research?

Should religion in a fantasy game be literalized (should the gods exist)?
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Chris Lehrich
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2003, 11:06:34 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
Is immersion a desirable goal?
Hmm. I'd say it's more like, "What is Immersion?" Almost everyone says that they want it, but few can agree on what it is, or how to get it.

Quote
Is it important for historical-setting games to be founded on good research?
Ooh, good one. I can hear the Ars discussions calling.

Quote
Should religion in a fantasy game be literalized (should the gods exist)?
This one's almost garunteed to get to flamewar status when debated. People take it waay seriously.

Great examples, Chris. I'll bet John's got some too.

That reminds me, "What's best, G or D or S?" is too obvious.

Mike
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Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2003, 09:10:17 PM »

One that I always give myself a headache about (partially because I'm compositionally inept):

Should game text be organized to facilitate reference mid-game (encyclopedic / man page) or be more comfortable to read through outside of play (chapter format / instruction manual)?

And...

How random should a die roll be?
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- Cruciel
M. J. Young
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Posts: 2198


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« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2003, 11:16:47 PM »

Ah, c'mon, guys. This one is too obvious:

Is it better to use one system for everything, or to learn a different system for each kind of game you want to play?

And another:

Is it better to put everything in one book, or to save something for the supplements?

--M. J. Young
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2003, 07:49:57 AM »

What are the characters supposed to do during the game?

What are the players supposed to do during the game?

And the relationship between these two questions.
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Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2003, 10:16:55 AM »

A few Imponderables on the crunchier side:

Should a Fortune resolution system retain a small or even infinitesimal chance of success or failure no matter how many unfavorable or favorable factors accumulate, or should there be a point at which the outcome becomes certain?

Is it desirable or appropriate to have Fortune elements in character generation?

When does a desired mechanical effect justify using unusual or custom dice?

How should a change in a character's ability in one skill affect the character's performance in a different but related skill?

... perception rolls ... ?  (any question will do)

... character advancement ... ? (any question will do)

- Walt
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Wandering in the diasporosphere
Andrew Martin
Member

Posts: 785


« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2003, 02:52:23 PM »

Attribute + Skill or separated attributes and skills?
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Andrew Martin
Thierry Michel
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Posts: 177


« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2003, 03:38:37 AM »

Quote from: clehrich
Is it important for historical-setting games to be founded on good research?


OK, I'll bite. How is the answer to that one "it depends" ? (and not an unambiguous "yes" ).
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Drew Stevens
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Posts: 154


« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2003, 04:22:54 AM »

Because the Count of Monte Cristo was NOT founded on good historical research, but is one of the best historical fiction pieces of action-adventure in existance.

Ergo, it depends. :)
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Thierry Michel
Member

Posts: 177


« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2003, 06:56:19 AM »

Quote from: Drew Stevens
the Count of Monte Cristo was NOT founded on good historical research


Didn't need to since it was written in 1844, but I see your point (though I still disagree with it, I'm afraid).
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simon
Member

Posts: 29


« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2003, 06:57:30 AM »

Apart from all the choices themselves (is this better than that) we can also ask for whom is this or that better? Better for my gaming tastes or yours? Better for this genre or that one? Better for the publisher or the player? etc....
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Drew Stevens
Member

Posts: 154


« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2003, 07:03:12 AM »

Quote
Didn't need to since it was written in 1844, but I see your point (though I still disagree with it, I'm afraid).


Mm.  Lemee put it another way.  If it makes a good story better by using the trappings of history, even though it is not actually historical, then I'm all for it.  Anachronism (sp) doesn't get to me the way it does for some people.

Solid historical research is, to me, as important as the level of goodness it imparts to the game, and more != better.

Ahh, Simulationist vs Narrativist.  ;)
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2003, 08:42:40 AM »

Quote from: Drew Stevens
Ahh, Simulationist vs Narrativist.  ;)

Actually it sounds more like the League of Historical Accuracy vs. well, people who don't give a rat's ass about historical accuracy. We never formally organized into a league or anything. It seemed silly.

But this isn't Narrativism vs Simulationism is my point. Narrativism can benefeit from stone cold hard historical accuracy. Simulationism can work with a flagarant disregard for same, possibly moreso. Monty Python & the Holy Grail is really inaccurate but I had always thought they really captured the feel of the middle ages, all the dirty peasants and such, but many experts believe that people in that time were very clean. (one of the reason I don't care about accuracy. Experts seem to perpetually disagree about what it was "really like") People tend to romanticize the past so blantant inaccuracies can help it feel more "real" for the Simulationist, even though it's inaccurate.
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2003, 09:17:10 AM »

Start a thread on the historical thing. But do your research first. It's a well debated topic.

Mike
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