*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 24, 2017, 09:43:19 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: 156 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1] 2
Print
Author Topic: The Limits of Roleplaying: Solitaire  (Read 8823 times)
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« on: August 15, 2003, 02:14:14 PM »

Reflecting on a bunch of the stuff that was brought up in this thread, I was especially drawn to the idea that roleplaying necessarily involved "shared imaginative space."  This goes back to the whole idea of roleplaying as a social activity that takes place with other people.  However, one of my long-term projects is a game concept called "Fingers on the Firmament," where the most fundamental themes are solitude and loneliness.  The basic reality of roleplaying seems to make it very difficult to have a social, collaborative game about being alone.

This led me to think about Lone Wolf and Choose Your Own Adventure books, where the act of reading takes the reader to a personal, private imaginative space (all reading has the potential to do this, actually), with the text itself providing the personal validation that players normally get from an audience or player group.  It seems, in effect, that the reader is looking to the book's author to act as a kind of audience.  The reader makes choices (which page to turn to) and then the book witnesses what follows.  Not the best metaphor in the world, but go with me on this one.

So what is the minimum amount of social activity or validation by an audience is needed for roleplaying to be effective?  It seems to me that if the minimum is "shared imaginative space," that necessitates having more than one person involved at some point, but not necessarily at the same point at which play happens.

EXAMPLES:

-- Joe Dever writes a Lone Wolf book.  10 years later, a kid reads it.  Together, they share the imaginative space that is Somerland and Lone Wolf's adventures in it, even though it happens years apart.

-- A few friends are playing De Profundis, using that dinosaur, the US Postal System.  They are not all imagining the shared space at the same time, but at the point that each player is involved in reading, writing, or thinking about the game, they tap into the shared space that they have slowly created over time.

-- Play-by-Email-Games.  Just like Play-By-Mail, above.

-- Standard tabletop games.  Not everybody is going to be sharing the same space at the exact same moment.  "Shared imaginative space" is a kinda faulty term actually, because it will inevitable be imperfectly shared, with different players having a different take on what's going on.  This is why we have ways of resolving inconsistancies.  More like "similar imaginative spaces" (though I'm not suggesting a terminology shift, I'm just trying to clarify what's actually occuring).

So eventually, you have to bring other people into your imaginative space for the art of roleplaying to really be successful (we're sorta taking this as a given, but feel free to argue it if you like), but it can be years (or just a few seconds) from when actual play began, as long as it happens at some point.

What does this mean?

Well, for "Fingers on the Firmament," perhaps players could be involved in individual play on a regular basis, only contacting the other players and "sharing space" every week or so.  Is that a viable model for roleplaying?
Logged

M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2003, 05:26:11 PM »

I don't see why not; but I'm not entirely sure I agree with the premise.

Before I knew anything about role playing games, we had make-believe and we had daydreaming. There were two differences between make-believe and daydreaming that I can see:[list=1][*]Make-believe was LARP[*]Daydreaming was solitaire[/list:o]I don't think either of those distinctions make those things necessarily not role playing.

After all, I daydreamed quite a bit. When I was in class daydreaming, I did it quietly; but when I was alone daydreaming, I had no problem talking parts aloud and visualizing what I was imagining, possibly using props for characters or objects. Was I not roleplaying when I was playing the part alone in my room? Was I then not still roleplaying if in my daydreaming I was imagining myself a character in another time or place doing specific things in a sequentially connected way?

If I were to add dice to my daydreaming, would it not clearly be a role playing game?

I certainly agree with all the instances you cite, that there is a shared imaginary space created between at least two people, at least one of whom is envisioning it at the moment play is occurring (whether the other ever knows what that vision was). I don't agree that you couldn't have the same effect alone.

To take one of your ideas and stretch it, Joe Dever writes a Lone Wolf book. He's written a lot of them, and then he retires. Years later, he picks up one of the books and can't remember how it goes, so he starts to read it, makes the choices from what is offered, and so tells himself a story. Is that not as much a shared creative space between the younger Joe Dever and the older Joe Dever? How is it not?

The imaginary space usually involves more than one person; but I don't know that solitaire is impossible for this. The difference between daydreaming and roleplaying may be more subjective than that; and there may not be a difference ultimately.

--M. J. Young
Logged

Mark Johnson
Member

Posts: 238


WWW
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2003, 06:05:57 PM »

Solitaire: A Short Storytelling Game for One Person

Solitaire is a storytelling for one person.  Like the card game, "cheating" is not really an issue since you are both the player and the referee.  In this game, you attempt to create a satisfying imaginative space by the means of statements.

A statement is simply anything that can be said about the characters, the setting, motivations, actions, etc.  All statements must be sequentially numbered, written down and evaluated with a "T" for True or "F" for False.  If play is going to be shared with others online or in print, it might be helpful if the die roll and target number is listed as well.

Sample Statements:
The Sea of Nye is filled with pirates  
John hates Mary.
Pedro is a fluent speaker of both Spanish and English.
Vera is strong for her size.
Gunther impales the guard on his sword.

You can give yourself a number of free statements to start off with.  Free statements are automatically true.  These will normally be used create a protagonist, define the setting, create a situation, etc.  A game module in Solitaire could consist of simply a list of starting statements.  

The Play Cycle:
1) Start imagining.  
2) Write down a new statement and number it sequentially after the last statement.  
3) Decide how likely the statement is to be true and assign it a target number.
4) Roll the die.  
5) If you roll the target number or below, mark the statement as "T" for true.  
6) If you roll above the assigned number mark the statement as "F" for false.
7) Repeat as desired

When assigning a target number give out lower numbers for vagueness, complexity and non sequiturs.  Give out higher numbers for simple, specific statements that build logically on previous facts.

Enjoy.
Logged

Mark Johnson
Member

Posts: 238


WWW
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2003, 06:28:13 PM »

Quote from: M. J. Young

If I were to add dice to my daydreaming, would it not clearly be a role playing game?


I just posted a quick mock up of what I thought that "daydreaming with dice" might look like.  I felt it was more appropriate to call it a storytelling game in its current form.  I am not sure that "game" is the right term either since there are no victory conditions.

However, it could probably be drifted into a RPG if you added the following rules during the setup phase

1)  Identify one character as the protagonist.
2)  Give the protagonist a goal.
3)  When the protagonist achieves the goal play ceases.  The player has won.
4)  When the goal is no longer achievable play ceases.  The player has lost.

Thoughts?
Logged

ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 309


WWW
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2003, 06:41:05 PM »

Funny you should mention all this.  I recently bought 'Mythic' [url]http://www.mythic.wordpr.com/http:// which is unusual not only because it has some of the most embarrassing art ever to appear in an RPG, but also because it is designed to be played equally well with or without a GM, alone or in groups.Honestly, it's a little rules-heavy for me, so I hacked together my own ripoff version of it which I called 'ORACULUM'.  I haven't had a chance to really playtest it yet.Here's the rules in their current form.(Incidentally, on another point -- I am very sympathetic to Jack Spencer's point about T&T-style solitaire RPGs being a "shared world" separated in space and time between the author and the player.  It's comparable to the difference between live storytelling and writing.)Oraculum Rules--------------------ORACULUMI always like something different.  Mythic ([url]http://www.mythic.wordpr.com/) is very different.  It advocates a style of roleplaying where one uses an oracle -- a die roll -- to control/represent the world outside one's character's point of view.

This is different from the traditional style of roleplaying, in which the GM controls the world outside the character, the player controls the world inside the character, and the dice dance about the boundary.

Can something like this work?  I'm curious.  I remember reading about an experiment where students were given the opportunity to participate in a "new kind of therapy" in which they could describe their problems to a hidden "counselor" and ask yes/no questions.  They would receive the yes/no reply, and that's all.  They uniformly described the advice they received as extremely helpful and insightful, despite the fact that the yes's and no's were randomly generated.

We are good at seeing patterns in random events, filling them with what's in our heads, and perceiving it as being outside of us and independent of us.

We are good at consulting oracles.

Mythic is really original, really different, but the rules are a little cumbersome for my tastes.  Anything more complicated than Over the Edge is likely to be too many rules for me.  So this is an attempt to play Ken St. Andre to Mythic's Gary Gygax.  I would like to just play some Mythic, but I know the details are just going to drag me down.  (I am Short Attention Span Dude.)

Oh, BTW, I don't know enough about probability to be certain about this, but I think that what Mythic is doing is rolling the dice to determine the probabilities of different "Bayesian inferences."  Cool.

The Rules

The Oracle
To determine if something is true, one rolls one or more dice, takes the highest or lowest, and checks this chart.  This is called "consulting the Oracle."

1: "No, And..."  Not only is the answer "no," something else unexpected is true that is an extension or exaggeration of the answer being "no."
2. "No."  The answer is no.
3. "No, but...."  The answer is no, but this "no" is ameliorated in some way: there's something that makes it less than a simple, complete "no."
4. "Yes, but..."  The answer is yes, but this "yes" is diminished in some way: there is something that makes it less than a simple, complete "yes."
5. "Yes."
6. "Yes, and..." Not only is the answer "yes," it's somehow "extremely yes."

(Designer's Note: man, that's a pretty tight spread of results.  "Ands" and "buts" are actually more likely than plain answers!  Maybe d10s would be nicer, with the curve like this: 1= "no and" 2-4 = "no" 5 = "no, but" 6 = "yes, but" 7-9 = "yes", 10="yes, and".  Hmmm.)

Likelihood

Before making an Oracle Roll, the players should agree on a base Likelihood of the answer being "yes," based on everything they know about the situation which is not explicitly codified as a Theme or Fact (see below).  It's a big ol' guesstimate, and all that matters is that the players more or less agree on it.

-3: Almost certainly not, 6% chance
-2: Very unlikely, 13% chance
-1: unlikely, 25% chance.
0: might be, might not be.  50/50 chance, all other things being equal.
1: Likely. 75% chance.
2: Very likely, 88% chance.
3: Nearly a sure thing, 94% chance.

And so on from there in either direction.

Base Likelihood is modified by Themes and Facts and their Relevance.

Facts

Not everything that is the case in the game world has to be written down in so many words, but key facts should be.  These key facts can include the capabilities of the characters (see "attributes and skills" in traditional RPGs), and anything in the character and nature of the world around them.  Facts are often established by means of Oracle rolls (which may be influenced by other Facts...)

One may never contradict a Fact.  If the answer to an Oracle question is already implied by a Fact, that answer is an automatic "yes" or "no."  No roll.  However, usually, facts do not imply other facts, they only suggest them.  If someone is rich, that doesn't imply they drive a nice car, it only suggests that they are likely to.

Facts have a numeric value.  The default value for a Fact is 1, but for facts which represent something that is going to come up often and may vary quantitatively, they may be assigned any low positive value (usually 1-3, but possibly higher).  For example, in a game with a lot of combat, the Fact that someone has Fighting Ability may be indicated as having a value of 1, 2, 3, or more, to indicate degrees of fighting ability along a scale.

Themes

Themes are basically Facts which never imply anything, they only suggest things.  
They tend to concern intangible things about the story, not tangible facts in the game world.  For example, the Theme "Sword & Sorcery" might exist, describing the world in general, making any event which is in keeping with the Sword & Sorcery genre (as understood by the players) more likely.  Or more personally speaking, a character might have the Theme of "comic relief" attached to him, suggesting that he is unlikely to either suffer great tragedy or achieve anything very heroic, and influencing Oracle rolls where either of those are about to happen.  Facts are things that objectively exist in the world; Themes are metagame -- about the story told in the game.

I'm still working on where Themes come from and how they are established, but to start with, each character can have at least one Theme for free, and players may establish as many Themes at the outset that they like concerning the world.  Any non-player character or thing in the world which is important to the players can have a Theme established concerning it, though probably not every one will.


Relevance

Relevance is the degree to which a given Theme or Fact matters for an Oracle roll.  It has to be guesstimated/eyeballed, just like Base Likelihood, for any given roll.

Relevance
+3 nearly guarantees a yes
+2 strongly suggests a yes
+1 suggests a yes
-1 suggests a no
-2 strongly suggests a no
-3 nearly guarantees a no

If the Fact or Theme doesn't have a numeric value attached to it, just add its Relevance to the Base Likelihood.  If it has a numeric value, multiply the Relevance by the numeric value.  (i.e. if I have "Strong 2" and I'm trying to open a stuck door, for which the Relevance of my strength is +2, I have a +4 to add to the base Likelihood of my opening the door.)

Redundant Facts should not be included multiple times in the same Oracle roll.  If your character has a Strength fact and a Warrior fact and is trying to open a stuck door, you couldn't use both of them because "well, warriors are strong."  That's already there in the Strength fact.

The Roll

Once appropriate modifiers have been added to Base Likelihood, if the number is zero, roll one die.  If the number is positive, roll one plus that many dice and take the highest.  If the number is negative, roll one plus that many dice and take the lowest.  Read the result off the Oracle table.

Starting The Game

To start the game, you should describe your character(s), using a paragraph, a list of Facts and Themes, or both.  You should also describe the world, and the opening situation, using the same techniques: a paragraph or so, and Facts and Themes.  (You can go into as much or as little detail as you like here.)  To give the story some momentum, the opening situation should be a "kicker" in Ron Edwards' sense -- something which is going to change your character's life and to which he or she must react somehow.

If multiple players are playing, they should include in the "world/opening situation" part whatever they can all agree on.

From then on, you tell the story.

You can make your character do, or attempt, anything you want.  Whether your character succeeds at what they try depends on Oracle rolls.  What happens outside your character's control depends on Oracle rolls too, but it requires you to initiate questions.  If you never ask an interesting question of the Oracle, nothing interesting will ever happen.  If you ask a lot of interesting questions, a lot of interesting things will happen.

Adding New Facts

You can ask a question about a new Fact or Theme to be added to the list -- after all, facts and themes are nothing but a formalized statement of important elements of the game world.  Assign that Fact or Theme a likelihood of being present, and make the roll.

You can also use Oracle rolls to get rid of existing Facts.

8/12/2003

Example of Play

What this needs is an Example of Play.
Logged
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2003, 07:42:51 PM »

Nice thoughts, guys, but this isn't quite the direction I was hoping this thread was going to take.  I guess I wasn't very explicit in the beginning.  Let me see if I can't stear us back on course...

Many artists make art that they never exhibit or perform, for any number of reasons.  Often, it's an educational exercise.  You make art for yourself so you can later make better art for others.  Sometimes you just make art because you can't help making art.  Whatever.  It happens.  Still, artists don't usually work in a vacuum.  You have other people come in and tell you what they think about your works-in-progress, even personal ones that will never be displayed.  The only stuff that no one ever sees is crap that usually gets aborted before it gets into a final form.

So roleplaying purely for yourself seems to be... I don't know ...lacking something critical.  The major problem, I think, would be sustaining energy for it.  How can you keep doing something if you're not getting validation from other people?  The reason that you bring others in to look at your art is to get their thoughts and get energized to keep working.  I could see how solitaire roleplaying could be fun in limited doses, but not as something that you do over and over again.  Personally, I'm not as interested in writing games that will only get played a couple of times.  I try to design for high replay value or sustained play.

So, the question I'm really asking is how much outside input is needed to sustain play?  Obviously this varies, but I'm looking for general thoughts and ballpark figures.  If you're going to get jazzed about a solitaire roleplaying game and be involved with it long-term, how often do you need contact with other players?  PBeMs suffer notorious attrition, where people just drop out and are never heard from again.  Part of that has to do with sustaining the shared imagined space over long periods of silence or real life intrusions.  I would imagine that PBM games like De Profundis might have similar problems.  How do you combat that phenomenon and still support play that is, most of the time, a solitaire experience?
Logged

Tim Alexander
Member

Posts: 304


« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2003, 08:23:42 PM »

Hey Jonathan,

I think solitaire roleplaying could/can be both enjoyable, and sustainable, but perhaps it really needs to be solitary. Your artist example is a good one, they make art they don't show so they can make better art for others. In my opinion this doesn't make the art they don't show unenjoyable or unsustainable. In fact I think in a lot of ways they are symbiotic, but seperate processes. I'm not sure mixing them is as sustainable.

Which leads me to PBM, and PBeM, in which I would say that the outside input needed is what causes the attrition. It's as if the artist is painting something he doesn't intend to show, but has to wait for a critic before he finishes each section of the piece. In the case of PBM etc. it's not really solitaire play, but disjointed group play. This isn't the best recipe for sustainable play.

That said, if expectations are set uniformly, and groundrules on how the group will function are adhered to, PBM and PBeM are sustainable as well. Admitedly I don't have first hand experience in a sustainable PBM that isn't explicitly turn based, or particularly gamist (LOTE,) but I think it can exist.

Is that more the response you're looking for?

-Tim
Logged
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2003, 10:50:26 PM »

Hello, Jonathan

Several things:

First, how imortant is it you to convince me to consider solitaire rpgs to be RPGs? That is, the perspective the linked thread is my perspective, and as such it's my personal view that excludes solo rpgs from the group. If others happen to agree or follow my logic, that's fine. But how important is it to make solo rpgs be accepted as the same as rpgs?

I ask because, to my mind, it's wasted time. Whether they're accepted as like rpgs or not, there are features of a solitaire rpg that mean they must be taken on their own terms. I just think it's better that way. Imagine a motorcycle designed too much like a car.

So, I would spend too much time worrying about the social aspect of a solitaire RPG. There is none. I suppose with logic it can be argued that there is, but it isn't much of a social interaction. Ever had a relationship with someone who never responded to you unless it suited them and you provided an answer they wanted to hear? Sounds like a hard-core dysfunctional relationship to me.

No. I find it more useful to look at the solo rpg as a tool that the player uses. Considering the social relationship between the author and the play is like considering the social relationship between the carpenter and the factory worker who made his hammer. I just think it's more useful to consider how the player will use this tool and how the tool is mean to be used.

BTW, this is why I still consider PBM RPGs to be RPGs. Snail Mail is slow, but it is still a form of social interaction.

I hope I'm not hi-jacking the thread, but since the original post linked to my thread, and seemed to be missing a major point that I was hoping to get across, but hope I have now, I felt compelled to respond.

Now, to you're questions:
Quote
So, the question I'm really asking is how much outside input is needed to sustain play?  ... If you're going to get jazzed about a solitaire roleplaying game and be involved with it long-term, how often do you need contact with other players?  ... How do you combat [losing interest] and still support play that is, most of the time, a solitaire experience?

That is the sixty-four dollar question, isn't it? I think that if there's contact with other players, then at one point or another is ceases to be solitaire play. There are too many factors to discuss even ballpark generalizations. I think I had talked at length on such things before, but I'll do so again.

The main thing is to keep in mind that this is someone meant for one person. When considering the componets, simple is good. You can play WarhammerQuest solitaire, but I never have because setting up and putting away the darn thing is too much hassel. There are always the weirdos who will set up all those pieces just to play a game by themselves, but if we're considering a game for publication, the less work it is or the more justified the work is to play, the better. THis should go without saying, but it is vital in solo play which has no social situation to force people to continue playing a game that is not fun.

I have been saying for a while that solitaire play has barely scratched the surface of its potential. The lone wolf/fighting fantasy stuff is but one potential angle on it. Other possibilities exist, but few have tried.

Time is an important factor. Most people doing anything by themselves are doing so mostly as a diversion. I suggest quick play sort of concepts. Like the card game Solitaire or the Atari Adventure cartridge. A game may take anywhere fore a few minutes or several hours to play, but it plays toward a goal and then it ends. How play will go can vary. But the "bite-sized" nature will help people to sustain interest.

That's all I have for now. If more comes to mind, I'll post it.
Logged
ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 309


WWW
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2003, 04:24:39 AM »

One problem that arises with solitaire RPGing (assuming that such a thing can be said to exist, which I will assume for purposes of discussion) is that of notation.

In a tabletop RPG, people have to talk to each other to make the shared universe shared.  So their speech serves as an articulation, and a record in memory, of what happens.  This is another function that game rules serve -- the state of the character sheet records pertinent facts about the state of the characters.  Notation.  Signification.

In a T&T-style solo RPG, the written paragraphs themeselves serve as the notation/articulation of what happens.  Play is quick because all you have to do is choose one paragraph or another.

In a freeform solo RPG, though, what will be the form of notation?

Are you going to sit there and say aloud everything that happens?

Are you going to write down everything that happens?  this is slow (for most of us) compared to speech.  It may seem cumbersome or difficult.

Or is the game system going to be detailed enough that you can somehow articulate what happens in its terms?

This is a problem I glossed over in Oraculum.  Mark Johnson's "Solitaire" game addresses it by making the game consist of written statements itself, which I like.  But writing is less spontaneous than speech, and usually more cumbersome than quickie game notation type things.  It's still an interesting problem.
Logged
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2003, 06:03:27 AM »

Interesting post, ejh. I like the idea of articulation. That bears some more thought.

That is the problem with it, isn't it? What separates freeform solo play from writing for one's own pleasure or daydreaming? Nothing that I can think of. So for a solo rpg to have any substance, it needs to have, well, substance.

This is why I've often thought that a solo RPG would mostly speak to Gamist priorities since it will require predefined element and play involve the manipulation of those elements.

Not that I think that the only way for solo play to work is gamist. I doubt it. I just think it'll be easier to make a Gamist solo game than a Narrativist or Simulationist one.
Logged
Jonathan Walton
Member

Posts: 1309


WWW
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2003, 08:46:36 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
First, how imortant is it you to convince me to consider solitaire rpgs to be RPGs?


Not important at all.  I think we're on the same page here, Jack.  I don't think solitaire rpgs are really "the same thing" as social rpgs.  That's why I titled this thread, "The Limits of Roleplaying: Solitaire" because my initial claim was that solitaire games were not, strictly speaking, "roleplaying" (as defined in your thread) because they lacked shared imaginative space.

It still feels like I must not be stating myself clearly, because the thread seems to have drifted into discussion of solitaire rpgs, which are a different animal and almost off-topic to this discussion (though a prime issue for another thread).

Let me put it in mathematical terms.  What I'm wanting to look at is: the limit of roleplaying (defined as involving shared imagined space) as player-to-player interaction approaches zero.  This would not include solitaire games where player-interaction actually reaches zero.  I'm wanting to discuss the possibility of games where there is very little player interaction, perhaps just the minimum required to create your shared imagined space.

This basically involves questions of how you maintain shared space over long periods of non-interaction.  And then, how do you recalibrate the shared space when players do come back together, since they will have probably developed the game in different or even conflicting directions in their time apart.  Then again, these may be the kinds of issues, Jack, tha you're saying depend on too many variables to be worth discussing.  If that's the case, maybe we could invent some examples and try to work through them?  Perhaps you guys have other suggestions of how to get at the issues I'm talking about.
Logged

Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2003, 09:42:41 AM »

Quote from: Jonathan Walton
Not important at all.  I think we're on the same page here, Jack.

Stellar! I can dig it, hep cat!
Quote
Let me put it in mathematical terms.  What I'm wanting to look at is: the limit of roleplaying (defined as involving shared imagined space) as player-to-player interaction approaches zero. ... I'm wanting to discuss the possibility of games where there is very little player interaction, perhaps just the minimum required to create your shared imagined space.

OK, we're talking bare minimum, then. I would say it's possible but unsound for practical purposes. I mean, you could plot the player interaction on a graph as aprroaching but never reaching zero.

Is a game where the player interact for only 3 seconds every five years count as a roleplaying game? Hell, I don't know. I suppose a more important question is what is going on the rest of the time while playing? How much of the actual play hinges on the interaction of the players? If not very much, then I would put it on just that side of the line, if a line needs to be drawn here.

So the minimum is more a factor of how important is is to play, I think How often it comes into play, or potentially could, and the effect it has on play vs what goes on in play w/o the interaction.
Quote
This basically involves questions of how you maintain shared space over long periods of non-interaction.  And then, how do you recalibrate the shared space when players do come back together, since they will have probably developed the game in different or even conflicting directions in their time apart.

Hmm. There may be too many variables here. It's true. I think it involves a certain amount of give and take and patience. There is a pacing of adding what you add and then waiting for the other(s) to respond in a separated situation like that.

There are variable, but I think they are:
    [*]The amount of interaction vs the amout of play without it
    [*]What goes on in that time when the players are still playing but not interacting
    [/list:u]
    Some examples here will help.
    Logged
    M. J. Young
    Member

    Posts: 2198


    WWW
    « Reply #12 on: August 16, 2003, 08:30:47 PM »

    Quote from: Jonathan Walton
    How can you keep doing something if you're not getting validation from other people?
    Huh?

    How many high school girls keep a private diary that no one will ever read? How many keep a private book of poetry that no one will ever read? People do creative things for themselves all the time. All that's really required is to be sufficiently introverted to self-validate: I write good poems, or good songs, or paint good pictures, or create great stories, but they're just for me, and I never share them with anyone because they're mine. Lots of people do this, in one medium or another, quite content to validate themselves in that area and not the least bit interested in what anyone else thinks.

    How many people keep such things secret out of fear of ridicule? Back to the Future showed us a George McFly who wrote science fiction stories but never told anyone, because he was afraid they wouldn't like them. People who feel rejected by their peers are apt to hide who they are and what they do from other people, and never seek external validation for it, because they don't want what they do ever to be invalidated.

    I don't see that as an issue at all.

    But given that you want information about social interaction, we'll set the solitaire concept aside. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, what is the minimum level of interaction required for a shared imaginary space to exist between two or more people?

    The answer is as individual as the people.

    I run a forum game. That's very like PbEM, except that it's done publicly. Because it's Multiverser, players can each progress at their own speeds without interfering with each other, at least most of the time (we have tried gathers, when interaction is more important). Since I'm there every day, and someone is there every day, the matter of how much contact is necessary seems to a large degree to be determined by the players. Some are watching for my posts and respond almost immediately; some vanish for weeks at a time and then return.

    The factor that catches me as relevant is the degree to which I am still in tune with the events of play. For those who are playing every day, it's little trouble for me to string things from one post to the next. I see that Graeme has posted, and immediately I remember what he is answering, so I'm already going over possibilities in my mind, bringing the situation back into focus, while the post is loading. David, on the other hand, may have been away for two or three weeks, so when he posts I have to go back and read over some part of recent activity to get back to what it was he was doing.

    So the amount of contact required would seem to be however much it takes to keep the imagined space alive and coherent. Some groups can meet four times a year and pick up easily from where they left off; I'm sure that as the game approaches, each player is reviewing his notes and getting his mind ready for what is about to happen. Other groups can interact every week and not maintain a coherent shared space, because everything they did last week has been forgotten. "Wait, why are we after this guy again?" "Because we think he has the McGuffin." "Oh, right. And why did we want that?" "It's the key to solving the other problem." "Oh, yeah; I forgot. We didn't solve that yet?" "No, we got sidetracked trying to find this." "Ah. Got it. O.K., go ahead."

    The answer is thus, how much contact do these players need?

    --M. J. Young
    Logged

    Jack Spencer Jr
    Guest
    « Reply #13 on: August 16, 2003, 08:38:36 PM »

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    People who feel rejected by their peers are apt to hide who they are and what they do from other people, and never seek external validation for it, because they don't want what they do ever to be invalidated.

    Hey, MJ. You just stated the problem with a certain type of anti-social gamer who "plays" but rarely speaks up during play...for this reason.

    Would move this to another thread, if there was anything more to discuss.
    Logged
    Jonathan Walton
    Member

    Posts: 1309


    WWW
    « Reply #14 on: August 17, 2003, 09:39:18 AM »

    Quote from: M. J. Young
    All that's really required is to be sufficiently introverted to self-validate.


    Very good point.  However, I don't know that I want to encourage that kind of behavior by writing a game based on it.  At least not at this juncture.  Most people I know need more help opening up than they do being introverted.  It would be interesting to write a self-validating roleplaying game, though.  But that's another topic.

    Quote
    Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, what is the minimum level of interaction required for a shared imaginary space to exist between two or more people?

    The answer is as individual as the people.


    Now we're getting somewhere.  So if the degree of player interaction with the shared space already depends on how much individual players put into the game, perhaps "delayed-interaction" games in PBM or PBeM formats need to take that into account.  In "immediate-interaction" games (tabletop, chat, etc.), it's cool to have all the players roll for initiative all at once, because you don't have to wait on anyone.  However, in PBM or PBeM, you might not hear from a player for weeks, and you can't allow that to impede the progress of the shared space.  So what you need is a system where players can tailor the amount of interaction to meet their individual needs.

    But there are some complications.  For instance, say two players are playing a PBM game.  One is fine with interacting every month; another needs interaction every few days.  One player is going to be writing many more letters than the other and getting very little response in return.  How do you support the needs of both types of players?  Can you?  Does the act of writing a letter allow players to feel part of the shared space, whether they recieve outside confirmation or not?  Perhaps if anything that touches paper (whether electronic or otherwise) becomes fact in the shared space... but then that would reward players for going against the grain and being more interactive (when I'd want the game to promote individual play).
    Logged

    Pages: [1] 2
    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!