*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
May 25, 2019, 06:43:21 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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 158 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Wide Angle Gaming  (Read 6199 times)
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« on: June 08, 2003, 11:49:13 AM »

In this post HERE I brought up the question of elitism in gaming.  The example I used degenerated the thread into a discussion on keeping secrets from other players.  I thought it would be a good idea to start a new thread on the subject.

On the whole I dislike people keeping secrets from me and not just in gaming either.  I like being in the loop on everything.  It's just a personality thing.  Anyway, I think this has given me a different view on roleplaying.

When I play in a game I like to look at what is happening from a wide angle.  I like to watch every character's story.  When another player won't reveal something about their character, I can't do that.  My D&D group say that I play from a DM's perspective.  I guess that is why I usually DM rather than play.

I compare it to Law & Oder vs Law & Order: Criminal Intent.  L&O doesn't reveal the villain to the audiance until the cops discover it.  L&O:CI reveals it right off the bat and follows their story along with the cops.

Am I the only one that plays like this?  Do any of you dislike it when you're kept in the dark about a particular aspect of another player's  character?

We talk a lot on the Forge about play style and GNS, but I don't see much about people honestly exploring their own personal style outside of GNS.  I think if we did we would discover there is far more to dysfunction than  differences in GNS preferences.

,Matt Gwinn
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
Alan
Member

Posts: 1012


WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2003, 12:34:46 PM »

I play this way all the time.  The technique is related to the "stances."  

There's a common school of roleplay that says the players should only make decisions based on what their character knows, thinks, and feels.  A decision made here is made from Actor stance.  

Often such players are highly resistant to players knowing anything their character does not.  Of course, this completely ignores the fact that players DO know more than their characters, just as the fantasy construct called their character should also know more in some areas than the player.

Other stances exist.  From Ron's essay on GNS:

* In Author stance, a person determines a character's decisions and actions based on the real person's priorities, then retroactively "motivates" the character to perform them.

* In Director stance, a person determines aspects of the environment relative to the character in some fashion, entirely separately from the character's knowledge or ability to influence events. Therefore the player has not only determined the character's actions, but the context, timing, and spatial circumstances of those actions, or even features of the world separate from the characters.

There's also the audience factor - a player can be audience to things his character doesn't know and greatly enjoy it - it may even increase his appreciation of events his character does know about.

However, in a gamist style of play, there are times when players should be ignorant - part of the challenge may originate from certain secrets.
Logged

- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
Lxndr
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 1113

Master of the Inkstained Robes


WWW
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2003, 12:39:03 PM »

Do you want your GMs to show you scenes of the villains doing things while you (the stars) do your thing?
Logged

Alexander Cherry, Twisted Confessions Game Design
Maker of many fine story-games!
Moderator of Indie Netgaming
Brand_Robins
Member

Posts: 650


WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2003, 12:41:09 PM »

For me the most important thing isn't knowing the other character's secrets, exactly, but is more the idea of group cooperation. When I play I find it as much my job to make the game fun for the other players as I do when I GM. In order to do this I like to know enough about the other characters to spin riffs that move our protagonists stories together in interesting ways.

In order to do this I need some basic information about the goals and ideals of the other players. If one of them is a prince of a lost and fallen country, Iíd like to know that basic idea. I donít need to know what country, or why it was lost, but I would like to be able to get enough information to take on an author stance and build interactions between our characters that allow us both to play with the ideas of his background.

Recently I had a discussion, after watching Cowboy Bebop, about why the characters in that series were great for anime, but would have been lousy for Rping. The characters all had interesting backstories, and their stories came together in the kind of cool jazz linking of theme and tone Ė but they only did so because all the writers were fully aware of the stories and the thematic links they wanted to create, the characters themselves had no clue. I contended that you could play a game like that, and have it be fun, but you would need to keep the players informed and talking with each other. Characters can be ignorant of character, but if players donít have a clue then forming links becomes vastly difficult. The result of that style of play is often that you have a group of strangers who have no links, connections, or protagonist roll.

Now, all that said, I do like it when someone surprises me with something unexpected or especially cool about her character. I think that a lot of players want to maintain an aura of mystery for that reason. However the problem is that, speaking generally, a surprise needs to be contextualized in order to be meaningful. Someone popping out of the blue with something completely unexpected doesnít tend to impress me, it tends to confuse me and move me away from the very surprise they were trying to create. Things need to grow out of the world, and out of the interaction of characters, or else they feel forced and false.

I suppose, btw, that its ironic that I would far rather play in the Criminal Intent style game, but would far rather watch the original Law and Order. Things that work in drama donít always work as well in game.
Logged

- Brand Robins
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2003, 01:01:26 PM »

Quote
Other stances exist. From Ron's essay on GNS:


I think this is a little different than stance.  Stance has more to do with how you narrate success adn failure in the game.  I guess I'm talking more about how you view the game, not necessarily how you play it.

I do think stance is an important part oif it though.

,Matt
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2003, 04:31:21 PM »

Interestingly, I think I prefer the L&O presentation over the CI presentation. And I'd agree it relates to the simulationist urge in me.

Quote from: Lxndr
Do you want your GMs to show you scenes of the villains doing things while you (the stars) do your thing?


Despite my sim urges I do other play aw well. And it's interesting to do cut scenes to the villains robbing the bank.

Let me make that clear. An RPG "mystery" doesn't have to be about the players solving the mystery. That is, there are multiple ways to do it. And one of them involves telling the players everything that one might find in, say, an episode of L&O:CI. Instead of trying to solve the mystery the game becomes about something else. It could be some issue (CI is always about some issue), or any number of things. But it is an option.

I watch CI, too (I think D'Onofrio isn't quite smart enough to pull off the Genius Columbo character).

Mike
Logged

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

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2003, 10:28:27 PM »

Quote from: Matt Gwinn
  When I play in a game I like to look at what is happening from a wide angle.  I like to watch every character's story.  When another player won't reveal something about their character, I can't do that.  My D&D group say that I play from a DM's perspective.  I guess that is why I usually DM rather than play.
...
Am I the only one that plays like this?  Do any of you dislike it when you're kept in the dark about a particular aspect of another player's  character?  

Well, I'm one of those secret-keeping players, so I thought I would share some of my reflections.  I don't always keep things a secret, but in general I find I prefer it.  I guess there are a few reasons:

1) Players generally do act differently if they know the secret.  I don't have any problem with a character grossly breaking character or using OOC knowledge for their own benefit.  However, I do see behavior differ.  Sometimes it is just subconsious cues, that don't make much difference but are a little distracting to me.  Sometimes it is actually conscious, though, like coloring actions in an attempt to draw the secret into interesting play.  Some people view this as a good thing.  In practice, I find I generally dislike it.  The plots that come out of trying to draw on the secret this way seem thin to me, because they are based on only a shallow view of my PC (compared to my own conception).  

I feel this way about Idelle -- my maga in an Ars Magica campaign starting in 767 A.D.  I do feel like play would have been more satisfying if I had taken more care to hide her nature from the players.  It wasn't in any facts per se, but rather in emotional connection.  Her secret was that she was more powerful than she overtly seemed, because she affected vulnerability in a passive-aggressive way.  However, she was genuinely kind and well-intentioned in many ways.  Other players tried to riff on this some in an intentional way, but it never really worked for me.

In contrast, I connected better with my PCs who had more secrets -- long list here.  

2) It tends to turn role-playing of all players more outward rather than inward.  With secrets hidden, each player is more focussed on just her PC.  This makes the characters a little more solid, but character comes out less in plot.  For me, the result is a plot which isn't quite as interesting, but a better immersive experience.  I learn less about other people's PCs, but more about my own.  

I have sometimes had people say that this is selfish play, which I don't think is terribly fair.  It's true -- I'm not actively trying to entertain the other players with my PC.  On the other hand, I'm not expecting to be entertained by them.  It's just a clash of styles.  A bunch of immersive players work fine together.  

Anyhow, those are my thoughts for the moment.  I haven't given a good example of a PC with secrets, but I'll see about writing one up well.
Logged

- John
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2003, 07:53:15 AM »

Quote from: John Kim
A bunch of immersive players work fine together.
This is a very important point. I hope nobody gets the idea that secrets can't be used functionally and even profitably. I have to admit that I like them a lot myself. Revelation to the players is just so very dramatic.

Mike
Logged

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2003, 08:30:04 AM »

Quote
Am I the only one that plays like this? Do any of you dislike it when you're kept in the dark about a particular aspect of another player's character?

Let me tell you a little about myself. I'm the sort who will read the last paragraph of a book. Ever do that? Often the last paragraph makes absolutely no sense until you had read the entire book. The last sentence of Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander was "Taran galloped to them." Not the same as reading the end of the book to see how it ends.

So, I have no problems with secrets. What bothers me is when you make a big deal of it. One of the players in my old group was and remains horrible about it. SHe keeps her character sheets in a binder that remains shut tight and when she needs to reference anything, she literally peeks in and then clamps it shut. This is needless and annoying. if you don't want me looking at your character sheet, don't make a big production out of it so that it stirs natural curiousity which would not be there if the sheet was in the open.
Logged
Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2003, 08:42:18 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
This is a very important point. I hope nobody gets the idea that secrets can't be used functionally and even profitably. I have to admit that I like them a lot myself. Revelation to the players is just so very dramatic.


I agree.  I don't want people to get the wrong idea.  I have nothing against secrets themselves, it's only when I'm a player that they really bother me.  When I DM, I run mysteries almost exclusively.  I'mm always springing unexpected surprises on the players.  I guess that is why my group enjoys it when I run for them.

One thing I have noticed when I'm running D&D is that I always have a desire to run little encounters in my head between the villains.  I like to envision scenarios of them plotting against the PCs.  I also find myself wonder during play what the villains are doing.  It's almost like I have two stories going on in my head, one with the PCs a protagonists and one with the villains as protagonists.  Is that odd?

,Matt Gwinn
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
ADGBoss
Member

Posts: 384


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2003, 09:26:30 AM »

I tend to try and play a character (the Sim in me coming out) and run things as a GM from this standpoint: Whatever my character would tell you about him or one of my NPCs would tell you about themselves is what everyone knows.  I admit no problem laying down my stats for all to say IF its in the contect of curiosity and general conversation.  However, and this may be a bit of abused player coming out, I do not want people turning my sheet and notes into bathroom reading for the purpose of telling me how to play.  I just think thats rude.

Playing in a game where Character Secrets are in the open for players and having another Player make a positive suggestion of some sort would be a new experience for me but not something I would nay say.  Indeed, I think both styles can be valid and fun as long as everyone is on the same boat.

I know running Sorcerer was a good experience, everything was in the open from day 1 and everything went very smoothly.

I also have seen examples like Jack's of the player who is so paranoid about their character that you barely know their name.  My perception has been they tend to be paranoid in any event or they think that if you iew their sheet you will steal their character's soul.  

Sean
Logged

Matt Gwinn
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 547


WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2003, 09:27:43 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr.
I'm the sort who will read the last paragraph of a book. Ever do that? Often the last paragraph makes absolutely no sense until you had read the entire book. The last sentence of Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander was "Taran galloped to them." Not the same as reading the end of the book to see how it ends.


I've never done that before, but it reminds me of my experiences with Les Miserables.  I have always been a big fan of the musical, and after reading the book in college I began to listen to the musical in a different way.  You see, a lot of the book was left out of the musical (hell it's something like 1100 pages).  Having read the book I was able to fill in a lot of the blanks and better understand the characters.  Victor Hugo spent a lot of time on character development.  He spent over 100 pages talking about the Bishop and he was in the musical for something like 5 minutes.  To someone who has never read the book the Bishop might seem like a nice guy.  In reality, his piety and self sacrifice goes far deeper than the musical implies.

How does this relate to this thread?  Well, by knowing more about each character (such as his secrets) a player can better understand the character's actions and possibly gain an emotional attachment to him.  Frankly, I think games are more successful when they successfuly elicit an emotional responce from the players.

Let's say a player is playing an evil character that is selfish and cruel to a fault.  He is from a broken home, and was raised by his prostitue mother who despised him for being such a burden to her.  He was mistreated and unloved his entire life, leading him to believe there was no true goodness in the world.  The pain of his chldhood drove him to selfish acts and villainy.  One day he hooks up with a group of adventurers out seaking their fortunes.  He doesn't care about them in the least - he's in it for the gold.  Anyway, in the process of adventuring with his non-evil adventuring buddies (they don't know he's evil) he begins to notices similarities between himself and the villain.  He plans to turn on the group at a vital point in combat, becoming allies with the villain and looting the corpses of his fellows.  As the final battle commences the villain is ready to lay a killing blow on an unconscious character when the party's halfling rogue throws himself in front of the villain's blade - saving the helpless character.  The act strikes a chord with the evil PC.  He starts to wonder whether his philosophy on good and evil holds up.  Why would someone risk his own life saving the life of someone who clearly wasn't doing anything useful? In this moment of contemplation, he changes his mind about turning on the party and they defeat the villain.  Over the next few sessions, the character slowly begins to shift his alignment towards good (which is what the rest of the group assumed to begin with).

Now, if no one in the group knew the character's background or that he was even evil, would that scene mean anything to anyone but the one player and the DM?  I don't think so.

,Matt Gwinn[/quote]
Logged

Kayfabe: The Inside Wrestling Game
On sale now at
www.errantknightgames.com
Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2341


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2003, 10:38:52 AM »

Hey,

I think this is an incredibly honest and salient comment from John Kim:

However, I do see behavior differ. Sometimes it is just subconsious cues, that don't make much difference but are a little distracting to me. Sometimes it is actually conscious, though, like coloring actions in an attempt to draw the secret into interesting play. Some people view this as a good thing. In practice, I find I generally dislike it. The plots that come out of trying to draw on the secret this way seem thin to me, because they are based on only a shallow view of my PC (compared to my own conception).

Thanks John. This is totally where it's at with a lot of folks, I think. The vision they have for their character is spoiled by the efforts of others to engage with it.

The narrativist solution to this is to encourage OOC conversation, so that players entertain suggestions from each other during gameplay. And this results in a dynamic where players are actually 'playing' each other. That is, players quickly learn that some entertaining of suggestions from others can be 'played' to create enthusiasm for their character in the minds of the other players.

With only IC conversation and character actions to rely upon, the result is what John describes. It's like cold-calling a girl you like to ask her to the homecoming dance, without having tested the waters by talking with her friends first. More often than not, you're going to be disappointed by what happens from taking an action that's uninformed by substantive insight into the situation.

Paul
Logged

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
John Kim
Member

Posts: 1805


WWW
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2003, 12:37:57 PM »

Quote from: Matt Gwinn
   How does this relate to this thread?  Well, by knowing more about each character (such as his secrets) a player can better understand the character's actions and possibly gain an emotional attachment to him.  Frankly, I think games are more successful when they successfuly elicit an emotional responce from the players.
...
(example of interesting character development)
Now, if no one in the group knew the character's background or that he was even evil, would that scene mean anything to anyone but the one player and the DM?  I don't think so.

I think this is more-or-less on-target.  The above describes a lot of my characters, I think.  The thing is, you seem to feel that it is a negative example -- presumably because you identify with other players rather than with the player in question.  However, the player in question it sounds like had a very interesting experience through this.  

To me, what stays with me most from my past campaigns is a lot of experiences like the above.  There are often really fascinating things which I see about my character.  I feel, though, that spending the effort to make all that public detracts from the character itself.  i.e. You can improve the campaign in one way by trying to make the secret character known to all the other players.  On the other hand, you can improve the campaign by instead concentrating on giving more secrets and nuances to other players.  

To take an example, there was my PC Rook from the Ripper campaign (a variant Call of Cthulhu campaign set in Victorian London).   I have a write-up of his background at http://www.darkshire.org/~jhkim/rpg/ripper/pcs/rook.html  None of it was especially public, and the italicized part was especially secret.  He worked for the Foreign Office, in short he was a spy.  In his background during an assignment in Egypt, he had seduced the wife of a criminal leader.  However, she found out about him, and he killed her in the fight.  He then framed her husband for the murder.  Rook was originally designed by another player, Jim, who wrote that background.  However, I kept it a secret from the other players and it was largely forgotten -- I think by the GM as well to some degree.

There was an adventure where we encountered a Goddess, embodied as a fortune teller in the East End known as Madame Sossostrich.  We were all magically compelled to love and admire her, and the adventure ensued.  At the end of it, though, there came a point when a magical event occurred, and Madame Sossostrich lost her power.  The GM told us that she had lost her magical power over us.  At that point, I had a sudden revelation, and I knew for certain that Rook had fallen in love with her.  

We took in Madame Sussex-Ipwich (as we called her), and Rook made clear his interest in her.  Nothing really came of it, though.  Several sessions later, the GM asked me some question about it -- and I realized that he (along with everyone else, I think) assumed that it was a casual attraction -- i.e. that he had the hots for her as a beautiful woman.  I immediately said that wasn't true, that he was courting her not to immediately get into her skirts, but so that she would say yes when he proposed.  In any case, the campaign drew to a close soon after,

The thing is, that is to me still a role-playing highlight, because at that point I had insight into the character.  Simply trying to tell it doesn't convey the experience and insight I had.  Much later, I could try to psycho-analyze -- and I could see that his traumatic experience in Egypt was linked to his falling in love.  However, just saying any of it isn't the same as the insight of role-playing it.  

It is a writer's aphorism that character is revealed through plot, but in role-playing this isn't entirely true.  Character is expressed to others through plot, but I can have insight into my own character without the medium of plot, because it is internal to me.  It still contributes to the story, but only in a veiled way.  In a similar way, for example, I think Tolkien's vast detailing of Middle Earth contributed to The Lord of the Rings, even though you can only directly see a tiny bit of it.
Logged

- John
Gordon C. Landis
Member

Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


WWW
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2003, 01:50:23 PM »

My experience with true secrets about a character is that . . . there mostly aren't any.  I mean that in two ways - the first is that 90% of the time, the player that THINKS he or she has a secret is actually hiding NOTHING from the other players.  They can tell that "something's up," and usually (if they know the secret-keeping player well) could tell you exactly what that something is.  I find the "pretending not to know something that we do know" a perfectly good bit of mental gymnastics for a player relating to their character, but not a good thing to do as players relating to other players.

(NOTE:  That leaves 10% of the time that the player really is keeping the secret, and not all of those fall under my next point, so - I guess "there mostly aren't any" translates to "this is so rare, and so NOT a key point for me, that it might as well no exist."  For someone who that secret-keeping really is a key point - well, I think it's still interesting to look at exactly why that is and/or what about it is important, as maybe it will turn out not to be the literal secret per se that matters.  But, like so many things, if that really is a KEY issue for someon - everything else will have to bend to accomodate it.)

The other way in which I mean there are no secrets if that if the secret isn't at  least shared with the GM, it functionally does not exist - until it's revealed.  Which means, rigorously, it might as well have been invented at the time it's revealed.  By some people's definitions, that means it's not really a "secret" at all.

Now, sharing it with the GM and only the GM - that is a potentially valuable and functional role for the GM in one definition of "immersive" play: he or she knows what the character secrets are, and steers play (overtly, subtly, unconciously - standards of what's acceptable vary by play group) to both conceal and illuminate (and usually, eventually, to fully reveal) those secrets.  For some people this is more acceptable than sharing with the other players, though I've seen it blow up into dysfunctional "GM and favorite player" situations too often to be entirely comfortable with it.

What I tend to see work well with secrets is this - characters have secrets, and all the players do know something about those secrets, directly communicated amongst all the participants.  However, not neccessarily ALL of the secret is known this way, and details are revealed/established during play.  I see this as quite similar to the development of a Premise in Nar play - sure, we all know the game is about issues of honor when survival itself is in question, but play itself provides the meaningful commentary on that issue.  Similarly, Janet is clearly playing a character deeply touched by evil powers, and the other participants know it's because the Dark One messed with her a while back.  But - why did the Dark One choose her (maybe the GM knows that one, but the other players don't)?  What role did her parents play in that?  And etc.

The long running Dark Sun game I'm currently in is filled with characters with these kinds of secrets - in fact, the one player who didn't have that sort of character eventually morphed (literally, I guess) the character to add something of the sort, because it turned out to be important to the game (for a number of reasons).  In this case, the players knew a secret was being "added" that wasn't there before.  We as players know much about the secret, as characters we know perhaps a bit less - but at neither level can or do we assume we know all.  That seems to work out best for us.

Gordon
Logged

www.snap-game.com (under construction)
Pages: [1] 2 3
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!