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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Christoph Boeckle on October 11, 2009, 01:56:58 PM



Title: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 11, 2009, 01:56:58 PM
Hello

A fair warning: this thread is going to be heavy on the theory.

A little bit of history
I like putting up links and give a general context when I write posts I consider serious. It makes me look serious. This is one of those posts.
Some things Ron said back in the November results for the Ronnies (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=18139) stuck in my head ever since. I have been trying to make sense of them. Specifically, I'd like to pick out this fragment;
Quote from: Ron Edwards
If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.
This one got me thinking about what Colour could really achieve in play.

Let's see the Provisional Glossary (http://indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html) definition:
Quote from: The Provisional Glossary
Color

    Imagined details about any or all of System, Character, Setting, or Situation, added in such a way that does not change aspects of action or resolution in the imagined scene. One of the Components of Exploration.
Something was missing, but what? I mean, how can Ron be so excited about Colour if it's something that doesn't change aspects of action or resolution? I just did some searching on the various forums, and could barely find any topic where I found somebody really demonstrating they understood Colour in a way that could help me make sense of Ron's idea of Colour being transformed into System. In most discussions, this potentiality is not even evoked, it's usually about "things that do not really import, but make the game more interesting". Ben Lehman wrote an Introduction to Forge Theory (http://benlehman.blogspot.com/2005/09/introduction-to-introduction.html) in 2005 where he writes:
Quote from: Ben Lehman (http://benlehman.blogspot.com/2005/12/introduction-to-forge-theory-6.html)
Color is all things which are not character, setting, situation or system. In other words, color is all parts of our play which are not really central, but nonetheless of some interest.
I find this to be very representative of most of the views on Colour I could find. It's not that I think it's wrong, it's just that I'm not satisfied by it. Maybe the thing I'm trying to put my finger on is not definitional after all, but I need to get this out first to be sure.


An opening?
So, Ron comes back with a very interesting discussion about Colour and Reward (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27126.0):
Quote from: Ron Edwards
(...) sure, you can have great characters, great setting, and great system, but without Color that rivets one's attention on those before they are experienced in full, then they'll never get into action. Color is superficial in some ways, but crucial in other, cognitive ways. In Sorcerer, the Color is all about arrogance and whether it can be heroic. Everyone knows it can be disastrous, sure; but you look at the red-haired woman on the cover and wonder ... can she do it? Could I? What might lead me to try? Combine that with the visceral response to the word demon and now you've got the Color. (...)
(BTW, note the way Colour is described by example rather than by a formal definition)

"Coincidentally" there's also the Color-first character creation project (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27387.0) thread and it's subsequent discussions. Important to my point is that this came just after the discussion of Colour and Reward. I smelled something on the move, but I got distracted by the density and technicalities of the discussions.

More important still, is that it seemed to me that Colour was gaining a more fundamental role than it had up to now, in some special way, and it could be tied to Reward somehow (but Ron was essentially discussing initial buy-in for role-playing a specific game, which is not quite what I want to discuss, or rather, I'm saying that buy-in is a given in what comes next). It was still quite vague for me.


The tip-off
Recently, a guy going by the screen-name Nocker (real-name Guillaume) arrived on the Francophone forum I moderate, which is heavily inspired by the Forge for moderation, content discussion and aim of supporting indie game development. We're having a very good discussion about the role of Colour in his last play of Shock: (http://www.silentdrift.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=1845).
What struck him was that the Exploration of Colour had been unusually powerful. He is quite versed in the seminal texts of GNS and Big Model (you might have seen him talking about his French podcast (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28427.0) on the topic) and also explains Colour in the Provisional Glossary fashion.
Again, the notion that Colour is lots of interesting but ultimately "inert" detail grated my sense of things and we discussed this some more. Our discussion over there is not only about that topic, so I'm creating another topic here to specifically discuss Colour, hopefully with some of those who were instrumental to bringing this element into theoretical discussion in the first place.


Some actual play
Two examples should provide some context to my reflections.

Polaris
I was playing this Protagonist who had been beheaded in the icy wastes. I did not even try to get my Protagonist out of that situation, happy to be able to go all Sleepy Hollow. So Minkar loitered around some more, with his head tucked under his arm, going about minding his own business. The rules of Polaris guaranteed that this didn't change aspects of action or resolution in play. It sure distinguished Minkar from all the other characters I have played in some interesting way, but, hey it wasn't really important.
Up to the point where he returns to his home. There, my Mistaken suddenly has a Kafkaesque bolt of inspiration and frames a scene that basically goes like this: the administrative heads of the city remnant have a problem because their law states that dead people are not allowed to mind their own business in the city and surely Minkar was dead since his head had been severed from his body, but it was legally impossible to judge a dead person. I was quite interested by this interesting legal loophole, found it quite adequate with the "Colour" of Polaris and accepted, invoking my character's last strands of loyalty (the protagonist was already Weary) to the polarian hierarchy and system, to be submitted to some experience which could then allow the judges to deal with Minkar.
For some reason I forget, the bureaucrats decided that Minkar's falcon could be used for a soul transfer into a living being, after which Minkar-falcon could be judged. This was getting way too stinky for my character, but conflict being what it is, Minkar did end up in the falcon's body. I managed to obtain a major debate amongst the would-be-judges. Disgusted by this bunch of wankers, I declared Minkar flying away from their grasp, far into the sky and direction the sun, full South...
This was how it ended for Minkar (betrayal of the people).

Prosopopée
This is a game nearing end of development by a friend, Frédéric Sintes. It's only available in French for the while being, but essentially it's about playing some slightly supernatural individuals who go about a fictional world mending all the disharmoniousness in the environment. It feels very zen and contemplative to play, characters being essentially a vehicle to explore rich settings with emerging human settlements running into conflict with nature.
At the start of each new "Painting" (episode), the players should decide upon an object in the room to be used as a seed for inspiration.
For this snippet of play, it was a sextant. Thus I decided that my character, who pre-dates the choosing of this symbol, called "He who returns the souls to whom they belong", would use a kind of sextant in his job. We have a scene where he observes an incoming ship from the lighthouse in a port. Something seems fishy with the souls of those on board. So far, sextant or no sextant, I could have done this narration however I wished, it has strictly no effect in the essential evolution of the situation.
We play some more, and gradually, through the combined narration of the players, it becomes apparent that my sextant is probably more a cause than a relief! Everything goes surrealistic from there, time-walking, philosophical discussions held by the two other characters with an owl under one great swinging pendulum ensues and spiritual quantum-physics ensue (measuring the souls seems to be the thing that actually cast the souls into their undesirable state). Finally, the two other characters return, back before the point where my character observed anything at all. I again narrate the first scene, but this time the sextant slips from my character's hands before he actually observes the arriving souls and is destroyed meters below. In effect, my character had indeed returned the souls to the seafarers!


My point
See how elements who at first were pure Colour wound their way gradually into Situation and eventually into a fundamental resolution for play? I suggest that if Minkar had been injured differently (say, a wound to the belly), he would never have been considered dead by the bureaucrats in the first place. I believe that if "He who returns the souls to whom they belong" had not had a sextant, our session would have worked out completely differently.
Then again, with some other game texts, these elements would have been formalized by the rules from the start (this is especially evident with the sextant who would have been considered a piece of equipment in a lot of games). So sometimes it's not quite clear at a given point in time if something is Colour or System. Only play can tell, and some games try to make "predictions" on what shall become System (for all I know, had we been playing a game where the sextant was a piece of equipment, I'd have gotten a bonus to a roll and that would have been it: a pretty minor contribution to the changing of the state of the fiction).
So, retroactively, I see how Colour has become System and I'm starting to think I understand what Ron was talking back when he organized the Ronnies.

However, if this is really what he was talking about, then the definition is really lacking in some way. Sure, I don't contend that some elements of Colour never change actions or resolution in the imagined scene, but every now and then, something grabs a player and goes all the way through the whole of Exploration and back up into the Reward cycle!
This has to go into the definition somewhere, I think it would make Colour a much more useful concept if we recognized the potentiality it has to become System at any time.

By the way, while I was doing some research today, I discovered a post where a certain Jason Lee had already basically said what I was intending to say:
Quote from: Jason Lee (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=17374.30)
Color affects Situation in all play.  Many elements we might refer to as genre are classified as color.  Color is instrumental in determining character motivations and how players resolve Situation.  There is no Situation outside color in Nar and Gam either.  It affects all aspects of play, even System.  The divisions of Exploration are purely artificial.  The categories don't actually exist in the sense of having boundaries.
(...)
[The] part: added in such a way that does not change aspects of action or resolution in the imagined scene, is just trying to say "Color is a different category from System and Situation" and not "Color is inhert in regards to Situation."  I could very well be wrong, and the definition does mean Color is inhert.  I which case, I think that definition sucks and I reject it based on Actual Play.

Maybe this was clear for lots of readers and this is just a "say it yourself" kind of post, but in any case I'm eager to discuss this further, because this is like rediscovering Colour (or some other part of the Big Model if I'm mixing concepts up) for me.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Callan S. on October 11, 2009, 04:05:19 PM
Quote
and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.
Was that being said as part of a playtesting process itself (ie, a process where floaty ideas in the mind eventually get transfered to cold, hard paper/writtenprocedure), or being said as something that's to happen during regular play? Probably sounds an obtuse question, but I'd think it pivotal.

Also this seems to be mixing up colour at the end, by describing it as rediscovering colour. It's discovering it's conversion to system or such, isn't it? Yeah, I know, boring and pedantic of me, but it might matter alot.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Simon C on October 11, 2009, 06:26:20 PM
Is Colour another way of talking about the fiction? What's the difference between the two?

Or is Colour more like "style" - not what you say, but the way you say it?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: greyorm on October 11, 2009, 08:58:39 PM
Christoph, I get what you're saying.

What made me understand Color as something more than pretty-but-"useless" bits of fiction was Ron shooting down an idea I had to formalize the bonuses and penalties to the martial arts stances one could take in Sex & Sorcery, by noting that the stances taken (and take-able) in the fiction already drastically impacted the results of conflicts as part of the momentary situational context of play. That there was a real difference to a character deciding to use a Throw as opposed to a Grab, even though there was no mechanical difference between them, depending on the previous and current combat situation, and even narrative situation.

Which made me go "dur..." for a moment, until it clicked and I had a moment of enlightenment.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 12, 2009, 02:52:03 PM
Hello Callan

I think it would be best that you check that post out for yourself or else that we wait for Ron's clarification, lest I introduce unnecessary bias. Nevertheless, I interpreted it as Ron looking out for specific points while reading and evaluating the Ronnie submissions, with their plausible effects on playability (minus the polishing and tweaking) in mind. Especially, he was looking for opportunities to transform Colour into System, the point which I'm indeed talking about. This potential that Colour has to become more than Colour, is what I am suggesting is a fundamental aspect worthy of figuring in any basic discussion of Colour. It has been mentioned a number of times in the past, but, it has perhaps more often received the short end of the staff.


Cheers Simon

I don't use Colour as an other way of talking about fiction. As far as I know, the term fiction is problematic (I try to slap myself behind the ears each time I use it in a sloppy manner, with visible effect), because it can just as well mean a series of events, a given point in that series and a number of variations on the general concept of "backstory/background/written story in book-form".
Colour is part of what the Big Model designates as Exploration (the act of role-playing if you will) and permeates through all the other four components: System, Situation, Setting and Character.
I have quoted two definitions of Colour produced by important contributors to the theory and have stated that I find this definition a step short of what this component really does (but perhaps these definitions precisely eschew the function and prefer to describe the nature of the beast for a good reason I'm missing).
So I'm not sure I can answer your question directly (since this thread might just be the result of some knot in my brain), but I hope I've given you enough material that you might answer it yourself or find the interest in helping out in this thread.


Hi Raven

Yeah, I think you do indeed get what I'm saying. Do you still believe that the two definitions of Colour that I have quoted are sufficient? I'm not trying to say "uh, these definitions suck, they should have incorporated my point from the start", I appreciate that I've quoted the Provisional Glossary on the one hand and an Introduction to Forge Theory on the other. I also fully acknowledge that others have understood and even talked about this in the mean-time (especially Ron which we both cite), and basically I just want to have a direct discussion about how central this idea that Colour is clay waiting to be shaped into other stuff (resulting in Reward even!) really should be. I mean, it did take a specific interaction with Ron pointing out specifically what he meant for your click to happen, and it has taken me a good deal of research and actual play to figure it out for myself.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Simon C on October 12, 2009, 04:21:15 PM
Is narration in Dogs colour? What about in MLWM?

Why is it useful to define Colour?

Is colour all the parts of the fiction (by which I always mean SIS) that haven't become relevant to the system yet?  So, for example, when the Dogs show up in a town, and I as GM say "it's early winter, but there's already the bite of snow in the air", is that colour? What about when later a Sorcerer raises "If you don't leave now, you'll be trapped by the snow"?

Sorry for these drive-by questions, but I'm finding it hard to get to grips with what's actually being asked in this thread.  Maybe tying the discussion more closely to a piece of actual play would help?  Can someone describe a moment of play and point out which bits are purely colour?



Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: greyorm on October 12, 2009, 04:35:05 PM
Do you still believe that the two definitions of Colour that I have quoted are sufficient?..I mean, it did take a specific interaction with Ron pointing out specifically what he meant for your click to happen, and it has taken me a good deal of research and actual play to figure it out for myself.

And that's the question, isn't it? I think that the official definitions are wonky. But I'm not sure if that's because my own ingrained gaming biases made me blind to what the definitions were saying, or if the definitions really are wonky.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 13, 2009, 02:02:43 PM
Hi

Okay Raven, we're in the same boat it seems. What would you suggest in helping me make progress here?


Simon, I'd rather you use my two actual play snippets and ask some more precise questions about them, rather than introduce your own situations, because since I've actually played them, I can develop easily.
In the games you cite, Narration is never only Colour. It's always tied up in getting dice, in describing specific character actions in a given situation. Your first Dogs example is probably Setting (Winter), Coloured (bite of snow in the air). The second one is the sorcerer (Character) giving a warning about the weather (Setting) with perhaps some menaces in between the lines, but not much Colour as I see it (all of which amounts to some kind of beginning of a Situation, but we need more: how the Dogs position themselves, what has been established before, etc.)

When you ask "Is colour all the parts of the fiction (by which I always mean SIS) that haven't become relevant to the system yet?", I think you're precisely approaching my own question in this thread.
By the definitions I reported in the first message, we actually don't know if Colour can become relevant to the System. It says that Colour should not "change aspects of action or resolution", or by Ben's definition "not be really central". It doesn't necessarily mean that it cannot become System, but it also doesn't suggest that it could (I believe that a lot of Colour stays inert in practice, and some gets picked up in a central way like I described in my AP snippets). Often when people talk about Colour, they go so far as suggesting that it's all the bits that are never really important, and that's a point I just can't abide with, given my experience. Maybe this is just some definitional thing. As soon as some stuff in Colour becomes central or changes aspects of action or resolution, then it changes status to something else. Either way, there is some dynamic between the components I haven't fully grasped yet.

Does that help to get more in-line with what I'm attempting to address? Central to that point is what I suggest happens to elements of pure Colour in the two AP vignettes.


Cheers
Christoph


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 13, 2009, 06:04:08 PM
In hindsight, I think my "not really central" is kinda crappy.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 14, 2009, 02:43:28 AM
Hello Ben

I was just thinking about something: both Polaris and Prosopopée are very poetic games, that is, sometimes a metaphor can be taken literally, stars really do sing, blood can make trees grow, etc. These two games are particularly flagrant about allowing a player to transform Colour into other Exploration components. I believe it happens in other games nevertheless, perhaps in a subtler way.

I recall reading some implicit statements about a specific design goal in Polaris regarding Colour in various blog and forum comments, of which you weren't too sure but seemed to be quite eager about (alas I can't find those comments, those probably date back quite a bit). If this is not some figment of my imagination, would you care to elaborate?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 14, 2009, 10:28:23 AM
Here's my take, ie the key that allowed me to meaningfully engage with people's discussions about colour:

Colour is the overarching stuff that the system doesn't define the workings of.

In other words you get this:
                  ___Colour__
                 /                  \
Character(s)                   Situation
                 \__System__/

System defines how they change each other, colour defines how they are part of each other. But also System defines the general pattern of change, and Colour defines the general moods/themes/similarities.

Now this definition is false some of the time, ie the style of the setting obviously requires patterns of change; you can build the colour into the system. But when the game is in flow that still distinguishes the stylistic stuff that is in the game from the stylistic stuff that is "activated", providing you have a constant system. If you have a changing system, then the definition must be time stamped, so things can be colour "for now".

Using this to look at the Prosopopée example, the sextant was a sextant, and that meant stuff to you over and above what the system said it could do. But instead of that extra meaning sitting on the side, it jumped right into the middle of the game, and the colour became a part of system; the relationships you observed between setting and situation (as well as their relationship to other stuff outside the game) implied a pattern of change, and you were able to make that dynamic of change a part of the in game changes you explored, turning colour into system without breaking anything!

Now on that "stuff outside the game", did anyone explicitly state why they thought it fitted for it to be doing that, or was the colour slowly matched up and layered from all of you until you could all make the same implications? In other words did people say "I think it could be cool if that causes this to happen because of ___", or did you spend most of the time just getting the visions to match up, so that when actual rules changes happened everyone was OK with it?

My suspicion is the latter, as the slow and surreal game would give you space to do that, by hinting at stuff and then developing those hints, but if it was the former I'd be interested to hear how this was communicated.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 14, 2009, 10:45:36 AM
Oh, just noticed my definition of situation and setting diverge from the forge language, just substitute "setting" for situation in my diagram and you shouldn't loose any meaning.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 14, 2009, 10:48:20 AM
I have no idea what I was talking about then. But Polaris has very strong color, and very loose resolution (precise resolution, but loose) which means that there's a color -> ad hoc system transition which happens very easily. Polaris relies on this as the primary engine of play.

My frequent example is in one of our games we had this huge giant. We were all really into how big and tough he was. So thus, despite the fact that we *could* have just killed him according the raw rules, killing him because a huge quest-focus for the game: we had to travel to the sky, make a deal with the moon, get backstabbed by the moon, etc.

The color there is basically informing our systematic decisions so strongly that it basically becomes ad hoc system.

I think that there's something theoretically worthwhile in the color -> ad hoc system transition, but I can't quantify it any more than to point at these AP reports and go "yeah, that."

yrs--
--Ben

P.S. I don't mean to imply that this is a unique feature of Polaris. I'm pretty sure that all games must do this to some extent. Polaris was designed, explicitly-if-unconsciously, to rely and exploit this phenomenon.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: FredGarber on October 14, 2009, 11:11:58 AM
I think the amount of Color that can transform into System is Social Contract dependant as well as System dependant.

I think your play examples are from two systems that encourage that sort of behavior, however,  In Polaris, what the players DO is transform Color into system.  I can't tell about the other one, but the "selection for inspiration" for sure seems like it's part of the game.  In other systems, that sort of behavior isn't the primary engine of play.

Color pushes into System? Play Example 1
The DnD party goes into the Tavern, and the bard offers to sing for our suppers.  He sings, rolls well, and the DM adjucates that the innkeeper gives us food.  The next day the characters are still talking about dinner as they hike, the stereotypical Legs of Beast, etc.  The DM calls for an Endurance Saving Throw.  Some of us fail, and the GM informs us that the food was badly cooked, and all fails result in being Food Poisoned, with decreased Effectiveness.  The party goes on to give a terrible impression when they meet the King, since half of them are running off to the toilet in the middle of Court.

Example 2:
The DnD party is wondering where to go next, to cleanse a castle of Skeletons or to hire ourselves out as Caravan guards.  My priest decides to vote for being caravan guards.  Everyone looks at him. A Cleric (who has Anti-Undead powers) avoiding the Undead?  My cleric explains that the group is low on funds, and being a caravan is steady pay, plus the chance to loot the robbers' loot.  Skeletons, on the other hands, do not have pockets, and so probably don't have a lot of monetary reward for the risk.  Everyone laughs, and we go off to the Castle anyway, my cleric grumbling.

In example one, our group saw this as Bad Play.
On one hand, the rules for poisoning are there.  On the other hand, DnD is all about choosing your challenges and Stepping On Up, and usually the Encounters (or potential encounters, like Wandering Monsters) are clearly marked as such. On the other hand, this was a memorable encounter and certainly had impact for our campaign and on the SiS. "I check the food for Traps" was often said.

In example two, our group saw this as Good Play.
My character was very Effective in the Challenges, and yet offered to not Step On Up, based purely on Color: I didn't know what Gold Pieces there were in each Encounter, and the System tells the GM to make it up anyway.  "Does the [monster name] have any pockets?" was often said.

Posed back to the Forge:
We were taking Color and pushing it into System.  In both cases, it happened, but in one case, it was Bad Play, and in the other, it was Good Play.    Could a different group defined them differently?  I believe so, and therefore I think that Social Contract is somewhere where you should look for this issue too.

Joy: I like your model.  How strong those links are between the words is where I'm focusing: some Systems and Social Contracts strengthen some of those links and weaken others.

-Fred


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Callan S. on October 14, 2009, 02:46:33 PM
This is where I recall how all encompasing the idea of 'system' is, and whether it's worthless in practical terms because of it. For example, if you forget to add a bonus while playing and the resolution roll happens, isn't that the means by which the group agrees to imagined events? Isn't that system? Or is it just shit happens? What if someone goes out for a smoke at a vital juncture, misses something said and acts latter on on it and everyone agrees to how he acts (no one realises it was because of misses something said/no one corrects him), isn't going for a smoke part of that system? Or is it just shit happens?

Shit can happen and then people agree to what is the aftermath of shit happening - that doesn't make that shit a system, though. If I used a RL weather vanes direction as a randomiser in a game, the rule that makes it a randomiser is system, the weather vane and it's direction are system, but the wind itself is not a system. It's just shit that happened.

I'm really just noting a different perspective which I think is important to this, but I think it would take the thread off it's topic, so I'm only noting it. I'm thinking up how to start a seperate thread on it, or whether to.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 14, 2009, 04:04:09 PM
Hello Josh

Your assumption is correct: we didn't specifically talk about the sextant becoming central, it happened because of our successive ideas piling up in a particular way (what some would qualify as "naturally"). Saying that we spent time just getting visions to match up is stretching it though. I had my guy manipulate a sextant, and the others suggested some reactions to that, and all the while things were going forward. At some point, the precedents were so rich it just "made sense" to wrap up the episode the way we did.


Hi Fred

Exploration is a subset of Social Contract according to the Big Model. So yes, it is relevant, although I think you're advancing to topics which are already beyond my basic point of just examining how Colour becomes System, Situation, Setting and Character.


Ben, whatever you really ever let transpire in your posts, this is indeed what I was looking forward to reading from you!


Callan: Yes, do open a thread about shit that happens (http://www.tellmewhereonearth.com/photostore2/shark-helicopter.jpg) vs system! I'd like to see your idea expressed in some context, because I've never thought of this before.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Simon C on October 14, 2009, 11:51:11 PM
So if colour is the stuff in the SIS that hasn't become part of the system yet, what does that mean? What are the implications for design and for play?  Why is it useful to define colour?

What about games where what you narrate is never relevant to the mechanics of the game (i.e. Contenders, and MLWM to some extent)

Does it make a difference whether it becomes relevant to the rules (by which I mean the game text that is used + principled decisions) or to the ad-hoc system?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Silmenume on October 15, 2009, 03:15:10 AM
Hi Christoph,

From my perspective, and that is a Sim one only so take this for whatever its worth, there is no “color” in Sim as “color” is defined here at The Forge. Color is to Sim (maybe all CA's – I have no clue) as Style is to Prose or as Texture is to Music (wikipedia definition (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory#Texture) – so apologies to real music theorists).  That means everything, every “layer” of the model is under the influence or presence of “color” even the Social Contract layer when “color” could be discussed e.g., “this game is epic heroic” or “this world is dark and cynical.”

The corollary is that if a statement enters the SIS then everything accepted, or at least not contested (nods to the Lumpley Principle), can be drawn upon immediately or in the future as a referent for future play.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 15, 2009, 04:18:48 AM
Simon, suppose you make a game about Vampires playing golf, it's just a game about people playing golf, but their vampires.

If you'd done that years ago, you can get a funny overlay of meaning where you talk sort of like businessmen and how they are taking advantage of their companies, unless they are actually talking about their feeding grounds.

If you do it more lately, people will probably go "oh God not more vampires" and maybe even play it as some kind of reference to the clichés of modern vampire fiction.

In that situation colour is important, because it is symbolic and stuff. It's effect on the system is pretty close to non-existent, as you could take out the vampire colour layer and just have businessmen.

In that game the fact that vampirism never appears in any specific technique, doesn't stop you enjoying it when it appears.

Now in MLWM, it generates colour from the rules; like I said before there is colour plugged into the rules, so that they produce a certain style of game. Now this means that the mood of the game goes a certain way, and you stick with the options that are built into the existing system.

Now defining colour positively as symbolic or style based overarching stuff between setting and character, then noticing that symbolism (sometimes wordless in-your-gut type symbolism) appears in system too, is just another way of saying "system matters"; playing a courtly intrigue with D&D 4e, or heroquest, will influence it's style.

So the system can sort of fix what colour is possible, but how? Well some things are fine to sit in the background, but they should also be able to come forward when their time demands it; in that D&D game with the poison, the GM presumably didn't say, "ok you're poisoned, remember that your poisoned" with it having no ongoing effect, the colour just doesn't work if it isn't built into the system.

everything, every “layer” of the model is under the influence or presence of “color” even the Social Contract layer when “color” could be discussed e.g., “this game is epic heroic” or “this world is dark and cynical.”

Jay, your view actually matches up with the big model quite nicely; your creative agenda is all about colour, so everything points to it, system, character etc and it engulfs everything in that it becomes the total point of play. That "arrow" sticking through all the layers is all about colour.

This matches up with the thing I said above; if the integrity of the colour of the game can be damaged by not including it in system, then your choice on that trade-off is immediate; "Well change the system then!"

But others might say that the colour should fall by the wayside if it is not accommodated in the existing system, because of how that can make it incomplete and make prediction impossible purely on the basis of system alone, and may even "break" it from their perspective.

My view is more like a tradeoff of those.

I had my guy manipulate a sextant, and the others suggested some reactions to that, and all the while things were going forward. At some point, the precedents were so rich it just "made sense" to wrap up the episode the way we did.

Ah ok, that's sort of what I meant, but it seems different from another version I've come across, which I'll call Indiana Jones and Chekov's gun:

In that version there is a trap of some kind, or just something pregnant with potential, and people tentatively push towards it, like someone trying to defuse a bomb, but as they do so, they give the GM some space to decide what it actually is, until everyone is clear what something is and what it will do, and the trap goes off, or the action reveals itself. (According to the tropewiki guys this is actually Schroedinger's gun (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ptitleocg6iflv079q?from=Main.SchrodingersGun))

But in your version, rather than "what will happen" being the thing that people are lining up, it's more what is happening. The tentativeness there is that you don't suddenly go "the sextant destroys the world!!!!", instead people explore it's significance bit by bit, like people building the common ground for a treaty out of things acceptable to both sides. Interestingly, like the film Donny Darko, the time travel element actually allows you to turn "what is happening" into a satisfying resolution (although yours sounds much more satisfying than that film!). In other words normally when "what is happening" is resolved, it has already happened, and a whole different movement of plot ensues about trying to deal with it, whereas you could mix it almost instantly in, because time travel makes everything easier! I suspect the same effect could be used in a game about Godlike power.

In case the link between that and what I was talking about is not clear, once everyone has got their visions together to some degree, then you can create a common system from that agreement, if everyone interprets the same way and if the colour requires specific forms of change. Freeform between people who know each other well sometimes works this way. In terms of the plot this agreement of colour expresses itself in new dynamics in the situation, and from the hypothetical "point of agreement" onwards new consequences can be drawn from that colour, new system that has supposedly "always been there" but is now taken advantage of directly.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Silmenume on October 15, 2009, 05:35:07 AM
Hi Josh,

Jay, your view actually matches up with the big model quite nicely; your creative agenda is all about colour, so everything points to it, system, character etc and it engulfs everything in that it becomes the total point of play. That "arrow" sticking through all the layers is all about colour.

Actually the definition of color in the Big Model says that color, while possibly interesting, has NO effect on situation.  IOW color is a pretty but does NOT have any substantial effect on game play.  I'm saying the exact opposite - that color suffuses everything including situation. My definition stands in direct opposition to the Big Model. Now whether or not that is of any interest to you - I'll leave up to you to decide!


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Caldis on October 15, 2009, 06:04:25 AM

I think you are missing the point Jay.  The Color is hugely important but it only remains color as long as it's not part of the action or resolution of in game events, once it's in it becomes part of system/character/setting/situation.  So color acts on the other elements, influences them and merges with them to create elements colored for this game. It's a lot like paint, when you paint a fence white the fence is still a fence, it still serves the purpose of a fence but now it's a white fence.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 15, 2009, 06:10:32 AM
Oh ok, Jay, well provisionally I'd say scrap that part of the big model then! As I've said I think colour is useful for discussion when it means what I've come to understand it as. And in that form, does it match up with your impressions? In other words does my analysis agree with what you see? After all, I can only talk for myself.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 15, 2009, 07:55:23 AM
Jay, you're confused. You're agreeing with everything while pretending to disagree. You're also bringing in GNS when it really doesn't need to be involved. Color is at the Exploration level, and Creative Agenda isn't the big driver here as much as just creating.

Fred, similarly, I think that talking about it in terms of "good" and "bad" play is pretty restricted by local social contract and creative agenda. I think that color, and what it does, isn't about whether what's done is good or bad, just how it happens. Likewise, I'm not sure I see any color connection in your first point. I mean, was there any description of the food as badly cooked, sitting out for a while, and so on? If not, the food poisoning seems not particularly color connected.

--

Hey, look. Here's where I'm getting my term "ad-hoc system" from. Vincent! (http://www.lumpley.com/anycomment.php?entry=234)

So check this out.

In games where the written mechanics provide a lesser a part of the system, the chunk for decisions is larger. Right? That means that the part for ad-hoc system is larger. Which in turn means that Color becomes more important to the game. This is the sort of thing that I was talking about Polaris being designed to provide for: since there are no mechanics for a character being tough to kill, if you need them, you must provide them via color -> ad hoc system transition.

This has some pretty neat implications to the importance of color wrt pre-written system. The more that your system covers all possible outcomes, and when to use them, the less important color is. Thus it is possible for something like Shock: to become almost entirely a mechanical exercise (despite the generation of a lot of color, it doesn't often matter in the same way that color matters in, say, Amber.) whereas it's not possible in a game less mechanically complete.

(I'm not saying it's possible to play Shock: like chess. It isn't. But it's possible to talk about this as a matter of degree.)

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Simon C on October 15, 2009, 10:14:21 AM
Ben,

Why is it useful to distinguish between colour and setting?

Does colour only matter to ad-hoc system? Why?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 15, 2009, 10:54:16 AM
Simon: My thought (and this is just my thought, at the moment) is that color results in ad-hoc decisions, whereas setting (and character) result in principled decisions.

yrs--
--Ben


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 15, 2009, 12:09:36 PM
Simon: My thought (and this is just my thought, at the moment) is that color results in ad-hoc decisions, whereas setting (and character) result in principled decisions.

I don't think they need to be distinct in that sense; these distinctions weren't created to answer that question. If I'm not mistaken they were a characterisation of what happens in a moment of roleplaying in a general enough way, even though the character<->setting distinction still reminds me a little strongly of the player GM divide. In actual fact I think it's probably just the classic living/unliving divide applied to the SIS. Although which has more "history" to it?

Warning, language change

Personally I'd rather grab all the "history" and "what is this game world about" and stuff and stick it in a separate category called setting, with situation and character meaning living and unliving stuff that is "within the setting" and is changing together. To put that a bit clearer, you can think of my version of setting being the "potential grab box" for situation and character, not actually existing in the SIS except as limits on what can be introduced.

So you have situation and character effecting one another, and changing in various ways according to the system and sharing similarities according to colour. The setting is in the background, setting what is possible or not possible.

Unfortunately this "rigour" of definitions grabs the word situation, which is a nice helpful word to describe any moment in time. It's a shame because the distinction I want to make is between the background stuff and the setting right now which is what the characters are interacting with, but is not itself a character, which currently use the same word.

This clears up the problem with understanding colour I think, because you can have what is "possible in the setting" (whichever word we end up using for that), and the mood and feel of the thing right now. A setting can be fixed to a specific colour like "always grimdark", or you can have it so that it is capable of varying. This means then that the situation right now might be dark, composed of characters and [situation/now-setting/environment/context/whatever] that share those traits in combination, even though the setting doesn't always need to be this way.

In this way Ben, your gut impression is exactly right, if the setting is the principles/potential of the SIS, and colour applies only to stuff we are sharing and imagining in this specific situation.

I'm sure you get what I'm going for, the question is how to change the language if this is a good way to see it. Or if this is a good way to see it!

For example, do people say "my setting is a world where centaurs from the future have conquered everything" or do they say "the setting for this scene is a trendy bar called war"? Well when talking to them about game design, they generally say the former, or qualify the latter sufficiently for us to be able to understand it.

On the principle of letting people be right as much as possible, I say we should shift "setting" to refer to the former only, if we want to preserve this distinction between the general/historical and the specific/now in our conversation. One nice thing about this is that "setting" could then refer to character backgrounds as well, which is in my experience exactly what happens sometimes; players create character backgrounds, and I weave them together with my own setting stuff to make what we draw on in play, it's all bits of setting that we put together to make the shared setting we play from.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 16, 2009, 02:26:07 AM
Hello everybody

A lot of good things have been said and I need some time to reflect, so I'd like to ask you to hold off from posting until I can sort through your ideas and my thoughts, please. I'll try to be back before Sunday evening (European time).

Cheers!


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 18, 2009, 10:43:24 AM
Hello to the newcomers

To all those bringing in their own models! My concern is really only a minor squabble with respect to the bigger picture: either we agree to redefine Colour to take into account the potential it has to be transformed into other elements of Exploration, or we acknowledge this same dynamic as another, acquainted, notion. Nobody seems to contest my basic observation, and I see no reason to re-engineer the whole Big Model from the ground up to take it into account. If any of you insist that we need to go beyond the Big Model or change other aspects of it, I'd like you to take those issues to new topics of their own, please, or at the very least relate it to my actual play snippets in some way, asking questions along the way when necessary.
Josh in particular, I'm not understanding where you're going in your last post and why you need to redefine the other Exploration elements (it seems to me like you're making it more complicated than necessary), most probably because you haven't grounded it in any AP.


Jay, I too believe that you agree with the Big Model, beyond the mere names given to the concepts. Which is to say that I believe that we agree.

Simon, from my point of view, your questions have been answered by Josh and Ben. If you have the feeling you're still struggling to get the point I'm putting forward, it might be best that we have a thorough look at Colour in a thread of your own. I'd participate to my best capabilities. This does not mean that I'm "throwing you out", just trying to develop the discussion to related threads if necessary.

Josh, yes, my preferred mode of decision-making is "in the moment" rather than "what could happen", as your comment reflects. I find it is much more satisfying in the long run, but I understand this is a matter of personal preference. In this case, the time-travel component arose purely from play and, I believe, Colour. A bit after the beginning, we had a scene where one of the characters sees a pot with four varieties of flowers, one supposed to blossom for each of the four seasons (the rules of the game demand that the first scene of each episode be explicitly set in one of the seasons), but all were actually in bloom. This notion of a frozen time was a subtle hint to the problem of the souls that had to be given back to whom they belonged. Some pseudo-physicist talk and overt surrealism impregnating our play all along, so that in the end nobody took it as a far stretch to travel backwards in time (as opposed to merely readjusting the flow of time and see what comes from there).

Ben, your posts bring forward a nice connection. And I think I see how it goes back to Vincent's post. A richer Colour also allows easier material referring to the fiction (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=431) (also this (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=432) and that (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=438)), in some way. My Polaris character flying away was inspired by the end-game rules, in a given situation. The time travel in Prosopopée was a way to bring a solution to the imbalance (this is what playing the game is about) manifested by the four blossoming flowers and the trapped souls of the seafarers.
So maybe another way of describing my initial point is that Colour gives context to rules application (and vice-versa, having some rules will coax out specific decisions from a given Situation).
I'm not quite sure if I'm really doing a new formulation of the same thing, pointing out at related aspects or beginning to realize that I'm mixing together a number of notions that are best left separated, I'll need some more time and discussion for that.


Thanks to everybody for having let me catch up! Feel free to post again.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 19, 2009, 05:34:10 PM
Josh in particular, I'm not understanding where you're going in your last post and why you need to redefine the other Exploration elements (it seems to me like you're making it more complicated than necessary), most probably because you haven't grounded it in any AP.

Interesting you should say that, most "definitions" I've seen of the exploration elements is done on a phenomenological basis, trying to see what definitions are the most natural given the differences of how we interact with stuff. In other words I haven't seen Creative Agenda as being integral to the definition of exploration, (in that exploration can be categorised just fine without mentioning it) and it'd be cool to see how that viewpoint works. In terms of necessity, most of that post is one of those foul-ups of language and vocabulary more than anything, as I try to explain the value of separating past history+setting possibilities from the current situation. Basically I think it clears up nicely the difference between the different elements, dodging a lot of sillyness while building in some of the lessons I've learned about situation generation, pre-made setting and the mood of a moment, but clearly I have a long way to go before I've made that case!

I'm happy to scrap it too if I understand something else as better, it's just that at the moment that's where I am. Your explanation of exploration as creation (creative agendanation?) may be able to change that!

The time travel in Prosopopée was a way to bring a solution to the imbalance (this is what playing the game is about) manifested by the four blossoming flowers and the trapped souls of the seafarers.

How lovely, I didn't know how much of that related to the core of the game, nice to see something pointing in that direction.

Almost sounds like someone in your group was pushing the edges of the world a little there; "oh we have to have different seasons do we?", but in a way that went very well. Sometimes I've found this happens because people push the edges only to find the core flow is more fun, or because everyone just shifts with them a bit, I imagine it was the former, with the seasons being strongly reinforced by the end of the game. If so that's probably a good sign for the game design.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: chance.thirteen on October 25, 2009, 08:01:38 AM
I am terrible with the specific vocabulary here, but I thought I would take a stab at it:

Color can just be details, or more hopefully, details that reflect the genre and/or the themes of a game. It helps the player get in the right frame of mind.

Color should .... well, color situation and resolution if you can, much like many systems would like resolution to reflect the theme.

For example: in a noir styled (or is that a genre?) game, color might be "garish neon reflected on the rain slicked streets" or "quaint homes with neat little lawns, their human warmth locked behind doors and pulled curtains". This does not address thematic elements for the characters like betrayal, vice, or ambiguity. It does however suggest those themes. It might include some terms to use (like naming a kill class Torpedo, or including a list og cant, slang, or vocabulary). Likewise, to me at least, color is the low end of that "poetic" feel that says a situation feels right, or a resolution is on the right track.

So in specific, as part of a game product, color could be carried in snipets of fiction (some Chandler) , the artwork (some photos or dark illustrations, the layout and graphics (looks like a typed report with old style typwriter font like Smash), as well as a good list of topics, images, news items, trends, terms, etc.,  to throw in as a narrator. You might include advice like if you are going to address isolation, the big city, or the idea of either cynicism or that the characters are tainted by their own choices you could mention those houses with their families locked away as part of an opener, but also return to that image as part of some resolution where it reflects how it is for the characters.

Do that right, and the author(s) has helped carry your mind to their vision of play or possible play, much as suggesting certain guidelines for behavior has also shared a vision of how they wish players to play.

Is that what everyone has been saying?



Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 25, 2009, 03:38:44 PM
Hello Chance

Since you ask, we're not really talking about that. My observation is that Colour has a profound influence on System, Situation, Characters and even Setting, yet the definitions people give of Colour is usually one more or less like yours, completely skipping or even indicating contrary notions ("details that do not change resolution") to what I observe.
My question is, should that aspect of Colour be added to the definition of the beast itself or should it be acknowledged as another, related, phenomenon?

Actually, some thinking about how these things usually work has led me to not especially want to answer the question right now. I mean, there's no official regulatory organism who can validate any term anyway. So the best I can achieve is to generate healthy discussion on the topic and see how (if at all) it influences people's way of talking about Colour in the long run.

A lot of good points have been made in this thread and I was able to connect to some other topics. My thinking has been enriched and now I need some time and further play to reflect.
Maybe it turns out to be a very minor point in the end: a lot of "philosophical" problems are often just a matter of wording. Maybe it's more fundamental and I'll include it in my future designs and feedback (AP and discussions of other designs). Time will tell.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 26, 2009, 03:15:02 PM
Chance, most of that is about a game text, rather than a game in play. I've seen colour used to refer to that before, but Christoph was referring more to an experience of poetic logic created in play that becomes sufficient to significantly define how people play.

So it's different from your description in two ways, scope/power/substantial-ness, and because it's a description of the stuff they were creating then and not a predefined thing they started with.

What I've tried to do is create a positive definition of colour, ie what it is to those who love it and put it square in the centre of their vision, rather than being the "everything else" of someone else's model. Now you can draw analogy to how "right to dream" has grown into a specific thing in forge terminology/understanding, but there is an important difference:

When you define a creative agenda in terms of "it's" own logic, that's fine, because they are supposed to be separate, they don't have (or aren't currently defined as having) any outsides where they must interact or coexist with the other agendas.

But system/colour/situation/character must behave differently, because even when they are not centre focus, they are supposed to be there doing backup for the others, character must be both complex characterisations, and the fact that some player is using a character as a vehicle, because in the first situation the player is focusing on it, and in the latter they are not, but it's still supposed to be there. In the same way, a system could be an intricate mass of interlocking calculations and judgement calls backed up by checks and balances, or it could be "John's word goes", and colour could be vague washes of rom-com lightness, or the kind of barely spoken and complex magic symbolism Marshal loves.

They have to be able to be the "everything else" for the other elements in different games, because between them they are supposed to encompass the entire shared creative act!

So colour, like all the other elements, should be defined so that it is able to vary in play between different poles of importance for different people. And we should be able to distinguish between colour defined going into the game; background colour (I finally found the word for what I was going at) and the colour of the moment in play.

Now all of that assumes you actually want to define terms in a model to that degree of accuracy!


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: chance.thirteen on October 26, 2009, 11:52:32 PM
How do you think the model, or any model, deals with something that goes from background color to the color of the experience itself? And how does that relate to giving an award?

Is there some fine insight to be gained? I could see the "poetic" end of the spectrum being a goal in itself, where the experience feels right to the player. Where does that fit?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Lior Wehrli on October 29, 2009, 10:34:49 AM
Sorry to resurrect a kind-of dead thread. But reading this really pulls me to post the thoughts I had for a while concerning color. Let me propose the following definition:

Color is detail of character, situation or setting that inspires.

It is not important if the detail matters in terms of system or if it is without systemic consequence. What matters is that it inspires play. The more color in a detail, the higher the chances that it will inspire a change of SIS in some way, even if the systen does not give the detail per se influence to character, setting or situation.

So Christoph, your character walking around with his head under his arm influenced play because that was a colorful detail (of character). If you had narrated him as just being dead without adding any color, that detail would have played out much less importance.

Similarly, by choosing the sextant you chose a colorful object which inspired the players to add more color and derive story elements from that.

Does that strike a chord with anybody or am I way off off how everyone else sees "color"?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 29, 2009, 01:38:45 PM
Hello Lior

What you just said... I think that with such a definition as you propose I'd never have opened this thread in the first place. Of course, Colour inspires! While I might want to be more precise in the long run (but maybe not), this is really a good summary of what I've been trying to say, it captures all I described. I've been even formulating some of my ideas in French with this word, but didn't realize it was so central. Yeah... really simple in fact. Excellent, thanks for weighing in.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Marshall Burns on October 29, 2009, 02:40:27 PM
This thread touches on something I've been thinking about for a long time now, but it's been hard for me to follow, and the thing I've been thinking about is hard to articulate. But I've got an exercise:

1. Of the many things being described as Color in this thread, think about how many would actually be better described as a function of Situation or Character (usually Positioning, but sometimes Resource).

2. Having thought about that, think about the things you would still consider Color.

3. Having thought about that, think of a time when something that you considered just Color became, at one point, an element of Situation or Character. By what process did that transformation happen? What prompted that process to be employed?

4. Tell us about that time.

I'ma try to do this myself soon. Gimme time, though.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 29, 2009, 02:50:38 PM
Hi Marshall

I'm confused: have I not done that exercise through the whole thread? If not, just tell me what's missing for you to understand and I'll try to help.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Marshall Burns on October 29, 2009, 03:07:58 PM
Sorry, I was vague :)

The answer is yes, mostly. But I'd like to see this stuff teased apart a bit more. For instance, I think it's worth pointing out explicitly that once it was established that the sextant was having an effect on the souls thing, it became a function of Situation -- specifically an element of Situation that the various characters would be Positioned relative to. And then describing, as clearly as possible, the process by which that was established. The process is clearly one of building through mutual consent, but, I mean, specifically, when did you realize the sextant's effect, and what prompted that realization? (As an example. There's no need to revisit the sextant if you'd rather pick out another example).

(Whug. That paragraph feels dense and tangled to me; is it comprehensible?)\

-Marshall


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Lior Wehrli on October 30, 2009, 04:41:42 AM
Hi Christoph,

I think I was at the same place regarding Color as you were. If color was description that didn't matter, why even bother to mention it? After all, a lot of things happen at the table that don't matter: Joe goes to the toilet and Anna has a can of beer. We do not talk about that or describe that as color, so why talk about other things that do not matter? So I was inclined to just ignore the concept of color altogether.

But when I read your thread I noticed that the description in the examples you mentioned do matter a lot. And yet, they do not form an entity separate from character, setting and situation (from no on: CSS). So it should be discussed. But I do not think color should be in the group with CSS since its an orthogonal concept.


Hi Marshall,

Going through you exercise, I have to stop at step 2. I cannot think of an example of color which is not part of CSS. Can you? I am tempted to claim that inside the SIS everything is either character, setting or situation. Outside of SIS you have system, CA, techniques and so on. And those of course influence SIS very much. Now if color is a property of things inside SIS, then it can only be a property of CSS. For me the question is: Can color come from outside of SIS? I cannot think up an example for that.

Here is how I see it (at the moment, at least):

  CA  --System-->  SIS(Character <-> Situation <-> Setting)  --Inspiration--> CA    (imagine that as a loop)

So according with their CA the players use the system to manipulate the SIS. The SIS is divided into the three components CSS. There is a feedback from the SIS to the CA in the form of inspiration. One source of inspiration within SIS is color (another might be challenge?).

Now I think that is way outside the big model. Or at least well outside of my reading of the big model. What do you guys think?

Regards,

Lior








Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on October 30, 2009, 05:38:19 PM
Hi Marshall

Okay, I see your point now. Give me some time to recollect my thoughts and answer your question properly.


Hi Lior

In the Big Model, the Shared Imagined Space can be described in the following "equation":

Colour * [ System * [ Situation = [ Character + Setting] ] ]

Colour is part of SIS and does indeed apply (or rather multiplies as Ron sometimes says), the four other elements. I agree that it makes no sense to talk of Colour that does not apply to one of those elements at least (Colour for System examples include: the poetic formulation of Key Phrases in Polaris, a particular choice of dice: I play Polaris with a translucent die that has runes engraved on it, etc.)
What you are designating as SIS is just part of it, namely Situation.
Colour does come from outside of the SIS, in a trivial sense that applies to the SIS in it's entirety. It's the people playing that produce it, it is not generated by the SIS itself in an autonomous perpetual motion cycle. This is why I like your notion of inspiration, because it invites the players to continue Exploring.

I don't think we need to figure in any CA for this discussion, what we're currently describing can happen even with no coherent CA at work (although arguably it'll be less fun or sustainable).



Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 31, 2009, 05:27:53 PM
How do you think the model, or any model, deals with something that goes from background color to the color of the experience itself? And how does that relate to giving an award?

Is there some fine insight to be gained? I could see the "poetic" end of the spectrum being a goal in itself, where the experience feels right to the player.

I've tried to come up with a set of examples from my experience to explain this, but I can't find any ones that are clear so I'll have to stick with hypothetical examples instead:

What are the birthday parties like in the human worlds of wh40k? They don't have them because THERE IS ONLY WAR!

In other words, setting the colour of a setting in broad strokes may limit the potential colour available in the game, and make it more monotone, whereas in contrast, the background before the game may not have a single clear tonal definition, but colour in play might be very important, in each of it's different forms.

Or the difference might be a shift between the broader tone and a local change from that, (the party above) if it is allowed to be different.

In this way the colour of a situation can be central, but totally different from the colour suggested by the background. It fits inside it fractal styley, and gives it nuances.

Another version of this is the subversion that can happen during a game, when a four-colour superhero game goes watchmen. I have this feeling that this kind of dramatic colour change is a consequence of a narr-like attitude to the background, and one of the places that this colour -> system thing becomes particularly important.

On the other side even if you have good background colour, it can be tricky to replicate it, as a friend of mine found doing starwars: Just knowing you have the same batch of characters and the same setting elements, somehow doesn't produce the same feel, if you don't know how to put them together right. Now actually doing that could be expanded into a whole other topic obviously, and a load of others will have more experience in doing that, but by putting the distinction between the background and the current situation, hopefully it shows up that skill is necessary to bridge that gap.

On the rest of the post, I'm not sure what you mean by awards, so I'll probably leave it there for now.

1. Of the many things being described as Color in this thread, think about how many would actually be better described as a function of Situation or Character (usually Positioning, but sometimes Resource).

Interesting, I sympathise with Lior's first paragraph, in that it occurs to me this might be like saying "if you bang your hand on a wooden table and it hurts, which is the cause, wood or table?" ie it occurs to me that not all distinct concepts can be distinguished by all interactions, so the question might not have any good answer!

But if I'm going to come up with a no-go like that, I'll need to back it up further: As I've come across these discussions I've found it helpful to see colour as something that overlaps with both of those, and comes from them; it's where I stick the symbolic stuff you get into with tessellation, magic as well as the indefinable gestalt stuff associated with design sensibilities and style, but focused on the situation currently being explored.
So I've got one of those whole/parts things going on with colour at the moment, and I'm happy to lay that aside and call what I've been talking about something else, but my impression is that it fits pretty well.

So I'd love to hear about positioning, and the extent to which it is embodied in specific situation elements, but I suspect that may be compatible with this stuff about colour, rather than negating it.

But who knows? :)


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on November 02, 2009, 04:18:26 PM
Hi Marshall

After reflection, I think that my points to Lior largely apply to my answer to you as well. Of course Colour does not exist on its own. I have no problem with the Provisional Glossary's part of the definition I gave in the initial post that says Colour is about "details about any or all of System, Character, Setting, or Situation".
In the case of the sextant, it moved from Colour applying to System to Colour applying to my Character to Colour applying to Situation and arguably to Setting. It was established first by choosing the sextant as our inspirational seed for the session, then I established it as part of my character by just saying it was, and then the other two players riffed off of that idea. The sextant's effect was left shady a good deal of the game (which was tactically sound for this contemplative game where it was all about exploring the possible implications). A number of issues could have been given to the session, but the episode was so ripe with possibilities and hints and innuendo that the proposed ending seemed totally credible to everybody.

Does that answer your question?


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 05, 2009, 06:58:44 AM
Heya Chance,

How do you think the model, or any model, deals with something that goes from background color to the color of the experience itself? And how does that relate to giving an award?

Is there some fine insight to be gained? I could see the "poetic" end of the spectrum being a goal in itself, where the experience feels right to the player. Where does that fit?

In 2007 I wrote a blog article about color: http://socratesrpg.blogspot.com/2007/05/what-is-color.html

I think that my distinction between Essential Color and Casual Color may be helpful to you.  My focus is more on design than play, there, so I imagine there may be parts that are not relevant to your inquiry about color.  If you read that article and you have some questions, I'll be more than pleased to answer them.

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: FredGarber on November 05, 2009, 02:00:46 PM
Is it possible that Color doesn't move to Situation/Setting/Character, but that the Situation/Setting/Character gains an attribute that is identical to the Color?
In less abstract terms, the sextant did not somehow transform from "not affecting play" to "affecting play".  Instead, the sextant described as Color was an inspiration for some player to add a sextant to the Setting, or add a sextant to a Character?

When the group was describing the lighthouse, I would like to assume other things were described and imagined..  There might have been a clock on the wall, a spyglass on a stand, a yellow raincoat, the lighthouse beacon (either bright or dark).  A seagull sitting on the railing.  Black rocks with the salt spray crashing against them.  All of these might have been Color elements.  However, one player picked up on the Sextant, and used it to affect the situation, or the character, or the setting.

They might have used some sort of formal System, like spending a resource coin or an action point.  But they might have used something more free-form, like just declaring "I pick up the sextant from the table," and no other player/authority said "What sextant?  I don't remember that.  Why is there a sextant lying around?  No." or some other sort of denial.

IMHO, this thread is skirting dangerously close to moving away from  "How do you incentivize appropriate additions from Color to the SiS?" and into "How do you encourage people to use their imagination to come up with cooler stuff?"  The first is something that you can discuss.  The second, in my opinion, is not (at least not before 3AM while sober)

-Fred


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 05, 2009, 03:21:30 PM
Fred,

It's fairly clear that you have some fundamental misconceptions about the areas of Exploration.  But don't worry, people have had misunderstandings on this topic for many years.  Your sentence,

Quote
In less abstract terms, the sextant did not somehow transform from "not affecting play" to "affecting play".  Instead, the sextant described as Color was an inspiration for some player to add a sextant to the Setting...

shows that you don't quite grasp the idea yet.  I highly encourage you to pour over the Provisional Glossary entries on Exploration and its components, along with the links to Vincent's blog I am posting here before making further analysis on "Color."

http://indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html
http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=166
http://www.lumpley.com/comment?entry=73

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on November 05, 2009, 04:35:41 PM
Hey Troy

What's with the lecturing? There's three pages of context to the discussion, which I'm pretty sure Fred read at least in part, since what he says makes sense in this light. Sure, the wording isn't quite what it says in the "textbook", but he is precisely discussing the topic I raised, while you just arrived here in a quite imposing manner. At least make the effort to connect with the thread's discussion and show that you understood what we're talking about. I don't want my thread to derail, please.


Fred,

Colour is detail about the other four elements (check my posts to Lior and Marshal just up there). What you're saying nicely flows into the latest point made by Lior in this thread: that Colour inspires people to create more. It goes a long way to solving the point I raised in the first post. The Colour in the AP snippet you're referencing (purely System at first, since it's a word we chose out of the blue, as per the game text, to start the session) spread and made little babies all over the Exploration picture.

I refute your allegation that this thread is going into the dangerous zone you're describing. All that I'm taking out of this thread is a little insight about what Colour really is and does and that's good enough for me.



Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: chance.thirteen on November 05, 2009, 05:33:57 PM
Troy, having read your article I like the terminology of essential and casual color. However, your essential color affects situation and character it seems. Unless I misunderstand what way "affect" is used in this model.

EG if it it important to understand the nature of a dwarven priest in specific , then that is either character, or perhaps situation? Balding is obviously a casual detail (unless that too is somehow an important detail revealing something deeply unusual or specific about the individual like they are devoted to a certain practice or are deathly ill etc). So wouldn't all color as described by the Forge be Casual detail?

I keep bringing up "an award" or "in print" because someone mentioned a question about what criteria applied to winning Ronnies in reference to color. Or so I had thought.



Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ashlin_Evenstar on November 06, 2009, 03:21:00 AM
Troy, having read your article I like the terminology of essential and casual color. However, your essential color affects situation and character it seems. Unless I misunderstand what way "affect" is used in this model.

EG if it it important to understand the nature of a dwarven priest in specific , then that is either character, or perhaps situation? Balding is obviously a casual detail (unless that too is somehow an important detail revealing something deeply unusual or specific about the individual like they are devoted to a certain practice or are deathly ill etc). So wouldn't all color as described by the Forge be Casual detail?

Good question!  Actually, the answer is just the opposite.  Almost all color discussed here at the Forge falls under the Essential Category.  Very little of what is discussed could be called Casual.  I think the hangup might be where Color and Mechanics start to blend.

It’s been said that Color does not mechanically affect the game, it just details all the other areas of Exploration.  This is true.  However, (and this is the really important part) mechanics can be assigned to Color.  For instance:

Plate Armor is Color.  +5 AC is the mechanic assigned to that Color.
Cleric is Color.  Has access portions of Magic in the PHB is the mechanic assigned to it.
Fireball is Color.  5d6 dmg to a 10’ radius is the mechanic assigned to that Color.
Cloudy Night is Color.  –2 to Perception checks is the mechanic given to that Color.

Mechanics, resolution, values, and other fiddly bits of the game do not flow from Color to other parts of the SIS.  Color is what makes those and other parts of the SIS real.  An object does not first exist in Color and then move to one of the other areas in the SIS.  The object has always introduced in the other areas with its Color.

Imagine a stone in real life.  Say that stone had no coloration, and by that I mean absolutely no visual properties at all.  Would it be real?  Would it be useful?  I wouldn’t think so.  The colors, the hardness of the stone, its shape, its beauty, its monetary value are what makes the stone interesting or useful.  Such is the same with items in the SIS and Color.  Characters cannot exist without Color. Setting does not exist without Color.  Neither do System or Situation. 

Am I clearing this up or just muddying the waters even more? :)

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 06, 2009, 03:25:39 AM
Ugh, sorry.  My laptop was logged on under a different name.  That was me above.  I've tripped up on this before and have fixed it now.  My appologies, Ron.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 08, 2009, 05:05:27 AM
Troy, having read your article I like the terminology of essential and casual color. However, your essential color affects situation and character it seems. Unless I misunderstand what way "affect" is used in this model.

EG if it it important to understand the nature of a dwarven priest in specific , then that is either character, or perhaps situation? Balding is obviously a casual detail (unless that too is somehow an important detail revealing something deeply unusual or specific about the individual like they are devoted to a certain practice or are deathly ill etc). So wouldn't all color as described by the Forge be Casual detail?

Good question!  Actually, the answer is just the opposite.  Almost all color discussed here at the Forge falls under the Essential Category.  Very little of what is discussed could be called Casual.  I think the hangup might be where Color and Mechanics start to blend.

It’s been said that Color does not mechanically affect the game, it just details all the other areas of Exploration.  This is true.  However, (and this is the really important part) mechanics can be assigned to Color.  For instance:

Plate Armor is Color.  +5 AC is the mechanic assigned to that Color.
Cleric is Color.  Has access portions of Magic in the PHB is the mechanic assigned to it.
Fireball is Color.  5d6 dmg to a 10’ radius is the mechanic assigned to that Color.
Cloudy Night is Color.  –2 to Perception checks is the mechanic given to that Color.

Mechanics, resolution, values, and other fiddly bits of the game do not flow from Color to other parts of the SIS.  Color is what makes those and other parts of the SIS real.  An object does not first exist in Color and then move to one of the other areas in the SIS.  The object has always introduced in the other areas with its Color.

Imagine a stone in real life.  Say that stone had no coloration, and by that I mean absolutely no visual properties at all.  Would it be real?  Would it be useful?  I wouldn’t think so.  The colors, the hardness of the stone, its shape, its beauty, its monetary value are what makes the stone interesting or useful.  Such is the same with items in the SIS and Color.  Characters cannot exist without Color. Setting does not exist without Color.  Neither do System or Situation. 

Am I clearing this up or just muddying the waters even more? :)

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: FredGarber on November 09, 2009, 10:39:45 AM
So, Troy, in the Standard Relationship (C*Sy*Si (Se+Ch)) of areas of Exploration, Color isn't really one thing called "Color."  It's "Essential Color" AND "Casual Color."  Both look identical to the outside observer, but sometimes System/Sitation/Setting/Character is tied to Color (eg, I wear "Plate armor" instead of "Cloth Robes", and the System changes.) and that's Essential Color, but sometimes I'm just Bald, and that's Casual Color.

For example, my character could walk into a tavern, and hear that it is well-lit and cheery.  Casual color? 
Until the moment when my character wants to extinguish those lights.  Now the GM has to determine what part of the System I have to use (water?  blankets?  magic?) in order to put out these lights, and now the light is Essential Color?
Or was it always Essential Color, but no one Explored the Color until my character thought about putting out the lights?

Is it the Design that provides the Principles by which non-ruleset Decisions (instead of Ad-Hoc) are made as to whether a snippet of Color is Essential or Casual?  How is a player to know before he tries to Explore it if the Color was Casual or Essential?

-Fred


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: HeTeleports on November 09, 2009, 11:55:31 AM
Mechanics, resolution, values, and other fiddly bits of the game do not flow from Color to other parts of the SIS.  Color is what makes those and other parts of the SIS real.  An object does not first exist in Color and then move to one of the other areas in the SIS.  The object has always introduced in the other areas with its Color.

Hey there Troy,
Sorry to weigh in so late in the discussion, but I've been avidly reading this along with the "Look at System again."

In the blogpost you linked, you did an excellent job categorizing two different types of color, which again adds definition - something I think the original poster was looking for.

The line of text (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28829.msg270383#msg270383) that started Christoph's discussion in the first place was this:
"Some things Ron said back in the November results for the Ronnies stuck in my head ever since.I have been trying to make sense of them. Specifically, I'd like to pick out this fragment;
Quote
Quote from: Ron Edwards
If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.
This one got me thinking about what Colour could really achieve in play."

I'm about to plug your two categories of color into that line. Hopefully, the Christmas lights will turn on. If they don't, I might have a loose bulb somewhere on the string.

It was the "transform Color into System" that got Christoph excited, and it's what most of the first two pages of this discussion have been wrestling with.
Your two categories for color (Casual and Effective) refer to color that hasn't been or has been transformed.
Look at the bald dwarf cleric example you make in your blogpost.
The character itself is all color, but the "cleric" and the "dwarf" definitely add to the system in tangible, measurable ways. The things the dwarf does professionally, how well the cleric will survive a cave-in, etc. Those two items are "effective" color.
I posit that those two items are pieces of color that have been "transformed into system." Because of what you and I are imagining with this character, it's going to affect the rules of how we play..
... and then the baldness.
As a victim of male-pattern baldness, I sympathize with your dwarfy cleric. A blank pate isn't going to affect my dungeon-going adventures. Meaning, at this point, the "bald" piece of color is "Casual."

Until our GM introduces an element where the baldness becomes part of the system.
Our bald, cleric dwarf needs to woo a chick. Cleric gives him some positives and negatives (some girls like a guy who's celibate); Dwarf gives him some positives and negatives (maybe the chick's short, maybe she dislikes dwarven food);... but when the GM gives our character a -3 penalty on attempting to woo this chick because the character is bald, then he has transformed the color into system.
Said another way, "inspired by the Casual color, the GM has turned that piece into Effective color."
Again: "A player at the table has taken one element of the shared imagination and established some system because of it."

I use the "GM introduces element" line because that's how DnD's system works. In other systems, the players provide similar elements; sometimes the player alone provides the color that gets harvested into system. The dynamic seems to be clearly present in the games Christoph described earlier. I like the sextant example best, though "the head in his hands" character is also inspiring.
Although role-players have been doing some form of that transformation since the beginning of the hobby (whatever game used), a good design makes that transformation easier for players to do and is a regular feature of gameplay.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: HeTeleports on November 09, 2009, 12:34:07 PM
....aaaaand, I posted without the following postscript. I'm way to quick with the Post button.

While my post is addressed to Troy, I realize he was there and posting when Ron made the comment Christoph was thinking on.

If my post rings of "He had to say it himself to understand it," that is half-true. I've been explaining it to people in my small circles for a while now.
On one hand, I wouldn’t pretend to educate on the Forge pages. But, on the other, no one has said the “transform color into system” as baldly as I hope I have.
(accidental pun there.)

-Youssef


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 09, 2009, 04:22:34 PM
Heya,

Fred, those are some excellent questions.  I’ll try to answer them as best I can. 

First, let’s tackle that equation.  The way Ron actually wrote it in the Big Model is Color*(System * Situation = (Setting + Character)).  For now, ignore the enigmatic part where Situation equals Setting plus Character.  If you want to talk about that, lets start a new thread.  I’m going to go back to our old Algebra classes and use the Distributive property on that equation and let C equal Color.  If we do that, the SIS actually looks like this: (CSystem * CSituation = (CSetting + CCharacter)).  To me, that’s a much more clear picture of the relationship between Color and the other elements of Exploration.

You cannot really separate Color from the other elements.  It’s always right there with them.  In fact, I submit that System, Setting, Character, and Situation do not exist without Color being firmly and inextricably attached to them.  I have yet to read an Actual Play where they did.

With that in mind, I think we can tackle a lot of your questions at once.  Let’s take your well-lit tavern example.  By the way, that was an excellent choice for an example.  You’re right to say that the light wasn’t essential to understanding the Setting until your character made it important by wanting to extinguish the lights.  The GM could have just said the building was a “tavern” and that probably would have been enough Color for everyone at the table.  So you’re good there.

The small area of contention I would have with you in your example is where you say, “…but no one Explored the Color until my character though about putting out the light?”  Yes, the light is Color but the lights are also Setting.  So a better way to phrase that question would probably be “…but no one Explored that part of the Setting Color until my character thought about putting out the lights?”  Color is not existing on its own there, it’s an integral part of the Setting.  So to answer the question you were really asking, if we’re going to use my design terminology (Essential and Casual Color) then yes, in this instance the lighting moved from Casual Color to Essential Color.  Or better yet, it moved form Casual Setting Color to Essential Setting Color.  Does that make sense? :)

Next, lets answer this question, “Is it the Design that provides the Principles by which non-ruleset Decisions (instead of Ad-Hoc) are made as to whether a snippet of Color is Essential or Casual?”  It is System not Design where decisions both rule set and non-rule set are made, and where an object can move from Casual to Essential Color.  A game’s design (i.e. rules) can set up procedures for making decisions, but it is the System (in the lumpley principal sense) where those decisions happen.  I might be misunderstanding your question, so if I am, please tell me so.

Finally, you ask “How is a player to know before he tries to Explore it if the Color was Casual or Essential?”  My first reply would probably be, “When would that matter?”  Isn’t that part of the fun of exploration?  My second reply would be to reference my article.  I defined Essential Color as Color that the players have to know in order to properly understand how to interact with a given Character/Setting/System/Situation.  That should be an adequate guide, if I’m understanding your question correctly.

Peace,

-Troy

PS: Youssef, I will get to your post as well.  I think you raise a very important issue that should be addressed. 


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: chance.thirteen on November 09, 2009, 07:51:48 PM
Troy: You were clear enough the first time.

My point is that if you accept the definition of color is that is has no mechanical effects, then anything that has a mechanical effect isn't color. I can't tell if you wish to overthrow the current definition of color, or are trying to explore something else.

To me color starts with language. Anything isn't "this alters your chances of doing something" probably has color to it, because we want to assign importance to certain details of our play. Otherwise it would read like this:

"There is."

"I do something"

"Things change."

"I do something else"

Beyond that we want to know what we are doing, why that is the approach to use, what we bring to the table that gives us power to affect the situation like that, and what the consequences are. The answers to these questions are what game design seems to be about in general.

So in some games, fighting is the best way to achieve goals, and it's focused on equipment, or special abilities. In others it's about internal personal development, and posing gnarly choices for the character is the way to achieve this. And so we design cause and effect realities for each of these setups, which carry the flavor of our focus. That may or may not be called color, depending on how youwant to define the term, but I still think it will always be on a slippery slope of language.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 10, 2009, 07:28:19 AM
Heya,

The line of text (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28829.msg270383#msg270383) that started Christoph's discussion in the first place was this:
"Some things Ron said back in the November results for the Ronnies stuck in my head ever since.I have been trying to make sense of them. Specifically, I'd like to pick out this fragment;
Quote
Quote from: Ron Edwards
If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play (think about that one!), then the hard work is over, and it's all playtesting and refinement from here.
This one got me thinking about what Colour could really achieve in play."

Okay, there is one super-duper important thing I want to cover before going any further.  This is something I trip up on all the time. The Big Model is a model of play- that is, people sitting around a table actually and actively playing a game.  Ron’s comments in that Ronny’s quote were about design.  Design and Play are two very different things.  For better or worse, they share a lot of the same vocabulary.  But to take Ron’s comments about Designs and try to apply them to Play is just going to cause confusion.  The Color he spoke of was referring to details within the printed text of a game.  The Color most often talked about in Actual Play, especially when referring to Exploration/SIS, is details in the narration among the players.

Ron, please jump in if I’m putting words in your mouth.  The transforming Color into System he spoke of was taking the details of a game’s rules and then turning them into “…the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play.” aka the lumpley principal.  He isn’t talking about some aspect of the SIS that exists exclusively as Color and transforming it into something that exists exclusively in System.  He’s talking about turning Design into Play (Rule Color into Play System).  It’s like he’s saying, “I can’t wait to play a dwarven cleric when 4E comes out.”

Let’s talk the –3 penalty applied to dwarven baldness.  I don’t think you have any trouble recognizing that there should be modifiers with cleric or dwarf because those are widely recognized aspects of Character and System.  But with baldness you seem to draw a line and say that’s just Color.  And you know, I can totally get that.  The amount of textual rules associated with dwarf is likely humongous, while baldness might have very few rules associated with it or be left entirely up to System as you describe in your example.  Regardless, though, baldness is no different from cleric or dwarf as far as Color is concerned.  They’re all aspects of a Character.

The difference is, from what I can tell, baldness had not had any mechanics associated with it prior to the incident with the chick-wooing.  It went from non-mechanical Character Color to mechanical Character Color. 

Over the last few posts there’s been a tendency to ascribe my Design terms of Essential and Casual Color to Play.  I hadn’t ever considered that before and perhaps my reply above to Fred suffers from crossing the line between Design and Play with terminology.  But if you are interested in trying to apply my Design terminology to Play, that’s something we can maybe explore together.  I don’t know how it will turn out. 

So, using my terminology, in the instance of Play your mentioned above, the Casual Character Color of baldness is shifted into Essential Character Color of baldness when the GM assigns it a –3 penalty and the group decides through its System that –3 is fair and appropriate.  Color, therefore, could theoretically shift from Casual to Essential and back through the System.  But it must be clear that Color does not transform into System during play.  Instead, the System merely assigns mechanics to Color as needed.

So let’s deal with the sextant.  From what I can tell, Christoph believes that because Color does not affect action or resolution it’s unimportant.  Color is absolutely key to enjoying a game.  Color is on even footing with System and Situation in Exploration when it comes to facilitating play.  I sure wouldn’t want to play anything without it.  The sextant he describes is Character Color.  Later the System incorperates that Character Color and uses the meaning that has been attached to it to resolve the Situation. 

So that’s Color being used in resolution, right?  No.  Christoph said it best, “So far, sextant or no sextant, I could have done this narration however I wished, it has strictly no effect in the essential evolution of the situation.”  The fact that it was a sextant doesn’t matter at all.  It could have been a globe, a severed head, a longsword, a compass, or any other object.  It didn’t matter to the resolution mechanics.  However, the meaning that was attached to the sextant by the players through the System is what mattered.  And it was that meaning that resolved the Situation- not the physical properties of the object.  The detail of the object was irrelevant.  The Situation would have eventually worked out in some way or fashion even if the object had been called, “Item #3.”

But regardless, the Color was always part of the Character and maybe Setting.  It was never separate by itself.  It was never detached from anything and then attached to System.  The System used it, but just like dwarf, cleric, darkness, and uneven terrain, the Color remained where it was.  Christoph is confusing Design language with Play language.

From my reading, the quote Christoph used from Ron talking in “Colour and Reward” is all about Ron’s book, not about an instance of actual play.  Again, that’s conflating Design with Play.  Especially pay attention to where Ron said, “but without Color that rivets one's attention on those before they are experienced in full, then they'll never get into action.”  This is all prior to Play.  Christoph’s sextant was created during play.  In my mind, that makes it a wholly separate topic from what Ron was talking about.

Youssef, are those distinctions making sense?

Chance, I am not in any way at all overthrowing the accepted definition of Color.  Mechanics are not Color.  However, mechanics can be assigned to Color.  Do you see that difference?  Longsword is System Color.  1d8 damage is System Mechanics.  1d8 damage is boring.  Longsword is interesting.  Calling 1d8 damage longsword makes the 1d8 damage mechanic real for the players.  The fact that it’s a longsword is irrelevant to the resolution system.  It could be a club, a mace, a baseball bat, or it could be called Item #3.  The resolution system doesn’t care.  It only cares about the 1d8 damage.  It’s the players that care about the longsword.  Does that help?

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: HeTeleports on November 11, 2009, 11:33:50 AM
Wow, I think I do see the distinction. It's not particularly revolutionary, distinguishing between the Design of the game and the Play of the game, but it really does discount almost all of the material in this four-page thread.

For Christoph's purposes, how does this distinction affect a revised definition of Color?

For mine, I'm trying to understand a distinction between Design and Play when talking about the very place where they actually meet. (I don't mean to suggest the distinction isn't here. I'm just trying to see it.)
The Design of the game - the text that all the players are working from - will obviously affect the Play, via the Lumpley principle. It's not the only thing that affects play, but if a rules set gives a GM the authority to set a bald dwarf at a disadvantage in a chick-wooing contest, then all the players use that text to agree to it.
As I had been reading the thread before, the thing that got Christoph excited about "Color" (undefined; what he was talking about in the last line your quoted section) was the idea that a rules set would encourage (or provoke) players to choose a piece of Color from Play and incorporate it into the System (the agreement by which the players imagine). Using that view, Christoph's quote of Ron's sounds esoteric: can I make a design that drives players to alter their game's world based on the Color the players themselves bring to it?

However, if I understand the distinction between Design Color and Play Color, Troy, the line "get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play" merely means "I wanna try out this game." ... ... Which is what you said, "It's like he's saying, "I can't wait to play a dwarven cleric when 4E comes out." In which case, the entire line itself (not just the bug-eyed phrase) is about clarity of Design writing. If he understands the game's rewards and currency and gets excited to play it, then the hard work is over...

If the second view is correct, then it's like discovering Samson's Hairbrush has no power. This big pursuit for four pages culminates in "Explain it well and get me to want to try it." Naturally, the subjectivity was stated plain in the contest, so it seems like a natural answer.
But by plugging in the Design vocabulary into Play discussion, Christoph fired off more than a couple of sparks in my own head (not to mention the thread's participants.) I've got half a mind to pull a Marshwiggle/Quixote: I'm going to hold with the first view (even if misconceived) because it portrays a goal I'd actually like to get to.
(Not that winning prize money is a bad idea... Hmm.)

Thanks, Troy,
-Youssef


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on November 11, 2009, 03:05:44 PM
Hi guys

This is going nowhere, as far as I'm concerned. I thank Youssef for trying to get back to my point, but it's no wonder you're finding my points esoteric, seeing which angle you chose.

Let's not care what Ron really meant. He might come around and clear that point up. Or he might not. In a certain way, right now, I don't care what he meant. What I care is that I was dissatisfied by the definitions of Colour I have found all over the place. I gave actual play examples to show why. I've shown that some things which at one point in play where just Colour (about a Character, about a Setting), were later fundamental to how the game actually ended and how it felt rewarding to me as a player. If Colour is just details that don't change action or resolution, then it doesn't describe what I reported. I'm not saying that definition is necessarily wrong, just incomplete. So I went off to say that Colour transforms into System, perhaps (Ben gave some good ideas here). Or maybe it's more that there is some other thing at work which we should describe to really get the full picture. I don't really care and I said that I would need time to reflect on all the things people said.
Then the thread was kicked off again, and Lior came and said: "Christoph, you're just saying that Colour is details which inspire." And yes, he probably captured the most significant point I was trying to isolate (and it does flow in to what was said earlier in the thread). Nobody has said that before, as far as I'm aware of. Get that. Troy's notion of Essential Colour just categorizes what is important to know in a reactive way. It doesn't say anything about how we create using it as a starting point. Plus, it's totally impossible to decide in play if Colour is Essential or Casual, this decision can only be made in retrospect (as my APs show).
So, if Colour is more than details, if Colour inspires players in making choices down the road, then yes, I can start making sense out of my observations (in this sense, the sextant gave us another ending than a washing machine would have). I'm not sure I quite grasp that thing about Colour ending as a central point of the sessions' Reward, but for the while being, I want to play some more before I make big declarations (maybe that is just a coincidence!)

See how we don't even need to reference Ron's citation any more? My point is here, regardless of Ron's point of view. See how I don't need any additional theory nitpicking? See how the Play/Design distinction is not helpful at all? If you don't care for my point of view, that's fine. I'm very happy Lior came along, I'm very happy about some other points made before, about how Colour allows us to make ad-hoc decisions. I want the thread to end here, definitely. Take your points to new threads, by all means. I'm sure good things can come out of them, but this thread needs to rest.

Thanks


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 11, 2009, 03:50:44 PM
Wow, I think I do see the distinction. It's not particularly revolutionary, distinguishing between the Design of the game and the Play of the game, but it really does discount almost all of the material in this four-page thread.

-Actually, yeah, I think it does.  I don’t want to discount the fun that was produced by those Actual Play accounts.  That’s as real as real can get.  But I do believe the initial premise of the thread was based on an easy-to-make misreading of a post that was made four years ago.

For Christoph's purposes, how does this distinction affect a revised definition of Color?

-If Christoph wants to know, I’ll let him ask that.

For mine, I'm trying to understand a distinction between Design and Play when talking about the very place where they actually meet. (I don't mean to suggest the distinction isn't here. I'm just trying to see it.)
The Design of the game - the text that all the players are working from - will obviously affect the Play, via the Lumpley principle. It's not the only thing that affects play, but if a rules set gives a GM the authority to set a bald dwarf at a disadvantage in a chick-wooing contest, then all the players use that text to agree to it.

-Everything you said I agree with, except maybe that the penalty for baldness can also be something the players make up on the fly.  But I think you’re cool with that; it’s a minor point.

As I had been reading the thread before, the thing that got Christoph excited about "Color" (undefined; what he was talking about in the last line your quoted section) was the idea that a rules set would encourage (or provoke) players to choose a piece of Color from Play and incorporate it into the System (the agreement by which the players imagine). Using that view, Christoph's quote of Ron's sounds esoteric: can I make a design that drives players to alter their game's world based on the Color the players themselves bring to it?

-Yes you (or anyone) can!  And that sounds like it would be an awesome game.  You’re talking about taking an innocuous object on a character and turning it into the crux of the game?  Absolutely!  “The stone that was rejected becomes the cornerstone…” is a time honored premise and something that would make an excellent start for a game.

However, if I understand the distinction between Design Color and Play Color, Troy, the line "get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play" merely means "I wanna try out this game." ... ... Which is what you said, "It's like he's saying, "I can't wait to play a dwarven cleric when 4E comes out." In which case, the entire line itself (not just the bug-eyed phrase) is about clarity of Design writing. If he understands the game's rewards and currency and gets excited to play it, then the hard work is over...

-That’s exactly what he’s saying as I understood it in 2005 and how I understand it now.  However, I don’t want to put words in Ron’s mouth, so I’m totally willing to be corrected if he feels it’s necessary.

If the second view is correct, then it's like discovering Samson's Hairbrush has no power. This big pursuit for four pages culminates in "Explain it well and get me to want to try it."

-You nailed it.

But by plugging in the Design vocabulary into Play discussion, Christoph fired off more than a couple of sparks in my own head (not to mention the thread's participants.) I've got half a mind to pull a Marshwiggle/Quixote: I'm going to hold with the first view (even if misconceived) because it portrays a goal I'd actually like to get to.
(Not that winning prize money is a bad idea... Hmm.)

Thanks, Troy,
-Youssef

-All our endeavors here are Quixotic.  So you’re on the right path :)

Peace,

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Troy_Costisick on November 11, 2009, 03:54:04 PM
Christoph,

I didn't see your post before adding mine.  So I appologize if you wanted the thread to end prior to my response to Youssef.  Please feel free to ignore eveything I said.

Peace

-Troy


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Christoph Boeckle on November 13, 2009, 04:59:05 AM
Hey Troy

No sweat. I just think it's high past time new threads were opened to discuss the different point of views in their own context. You should for example, it'd be very interesting.


Title: Re: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 16, 2009, 12:18:14 PM
I'm honoring Christoph's call on this. This thread is now closed to further posting. More discussion is welcome on daughter threads with specific topics of their own.

Best, Ron