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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13299 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 47 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: MMORPGs; totally alien from P&PRPGs??  (Read 11460 times)
Daniel B
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Posts: 196

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #30 on: November 19, 2008, 08:20:51 AM »

My opinion is that what people look for from MMORPGs and what they look for from regular P&P RPGs is identical, except that one can also get the basic one-player-game experience from MMORPGs that is harder to obtain from P&Ps. If correct, then the study of MMORPGs and P&Ps are studies of the same subject, simply expressed in different mediums. My original intent in starting the thread was merely to bring the HCDS theory to the attention of people here. On that note ... well .. mission accomplished, so I was prepared to let the thread travel where it may. If most people here believe that the two forms of entertainment don't have enough to do with each other such that analyzing P&P's from an MMO standpoint is futile, then I don't really have much else to say.

I don't think I'll be starting a new thread in Actual Play regarding understanding the Big Model, because it seems to me that the model is pretty straight-forward, if hideously tricky to encapsulate in a P&P game.

Jona, thanks for the links. Interesting discussions, especially that one on holography X-) A set of 3D virtual fighting men/creatures would indeed be cool.

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Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #31 on: November 19, 2008, 08:47:26 AM »

Hey Dan, however the discussion turned out this case isn't the last word. A lot of times a given discussion turns out to be more important much later, for someone else's purposes. So whatever seemed to have been shouted loudest in this case is not necessarily the conclusion. It would be a mistake to say that this thread expressed "what people believe here." That's merely how the dialogue turned out in this case.

We should close the thread here, folks, as per Dan's statement that its purpose is served. No more posting, please.

Best, Ron
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DWeird
Member

Posts: 87


« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2008, 05:07:32 AM »

What? No! No ending!

Quote
A lot of times a given discussion turns out to be more important much later, for someone else's purposes.

That's me, most definitelly. I'll start another thread if told to (especially because it doesn't feel in tune with some of the discussion, though it does have heaps to do with the initial post), but I'd like to stay here if only because a thread already started needs less juice to start up.

Anyhoo... I eat my apples through a paper bag. Freeform forum play and whatnot else. It can be interesting and it can suck, but that's not an issue I want to explore - so if anyone has an opinion about it, please keep it to yourself unless you think it'd be somehow useful.

Now - time and again, I've attempted to create a huge (people-wise - 20+ or so - to a regular P&P game) game where people would create a whole world and play nations and/or people of power in it. Well... It has failed each and every time. While people liked the idea and would write up whole tracts on regions, nations, races and whatever, the game would always amount to nil because I never managed to get a means of interaction beyond telling the players "Do it!" in the game, meaning all that stuff would just sit there. Meaning that wouldn't really be a game.

[Right now, I'm usually thinking "Maybe I should just play Universalis with them?" - but I'm saying this so you'd know I'm aware of the possibility and would discuss my actual proposed issue instead.]

Now, a number of issues contributed to its continued failing (some of which are peculiar to the medium - pacing, "RPer activity" and such - of which I feel I have a better grasp of than the advice I'd receive here, so lets ignore those for a bit), but the main one is likely that with that number of people, their expectations of the game almost always differ, and it's impossible to design a game that would satisfy everyone. I've tried, and instead I've pissed everyone off to some degree. "I want battles! Strategy! - alrighty, let me try and design a large-scale combat system..." "I want my people to be all smart and techy-like, with clockwork submarines! - ...okay, uh, that tech can mess with the combat a bit, so I'll just tweak the rules to allow resource management?" "Dude, I just want to play the mysterious folk in the hidden city dome! Why do I have to read through all this crap? - well, err... *shoots himself*". To be fair, I wasn't too good at designing any of the features - went for some sort of turn-based RTS type of thing. *shudder*

Now, there were some moments - 6-7 nations, played by different players, were forming an alliance of sorts. It seemed rather boring - I thought people were just doing "blocing" to reproduce a classic high fantasy feel, with "Empire of the East", "The Land of Shadows", "Ho, We Are Awesome Mages!" and so on. But then I found out that the two major planners of the alliance were actually planning to screw everyone over most majorly, a la Athens, which felt just so awesome.

Anyway. All that is just background so you'd know where I'm coming from. What really clicked for me in this thread was Dan's distinction between individual preferences and the form of group engagement. You can't say that a player is "narrativist" or "gamist" or "simulationist" because that's something that describes group play, not people.

Which, for me, means two things:

1) that some sort of a typology of players (without associating any stigma with any type, yadda yadda general PC-ness) may be useful;
and 2), ever more importantly, that these different types of players can mesh into different modes of group play.

Players are not made identical, and since actual play is not simply some sort of larger player, maybe there's a functional social dynamic that can be based on certain types of differences instead of certain types of similarities?

Like... the guy who likes to "make stuff" describes a new gliding scout, the strategy guy incorporates it into his armies, and guy with who enjoys playing up secrecy goes around trying to sabotage it before one of 'em gets too close.

Please note: I'm not trying to create a game for everyone, not anymore at least. Still, I think (hope) that it's possible to create a game (or several games with plentiful points of intersection - that's still a "game" in my book) where different types of players enjoy functional gameplay.

I'm fairly sure that the belief that the players, playing the same game, are always doing the same thing, is wrong, and in some cases, wrong in unproductive ways. It's these that interest me. I also think that there may be differences between players-as-players that aren't based on authority (GM/non-GM) or preferences (explore/advance/kill/whatever), but I'm not sure what these are.

Is it possible for players to play the same game, but be doing different things... and have fun doing it?

Ever felt like you and the other players were playing different games... and liked it?

Now, I know very little about tabletop RPGs, and I'm not sure if I got my point across well, or even that I should be posting here at all. Please don't treat all this as some sort of set of beliefs I have - I just have an idea that I think it's worth exploring and would like some help doing that exploration.

Also... If any part of my post seems a bit toothy - that's, uh, just the way I grin. Don't mind it!
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2008, 08:08:52 AM »

Toothy is OK here. I've found through painful experience that it works best if you always demonstrate you understand what the other guy is saying, or ask outright if you don't.

Anyway, you've made a good case for continuing the thread, although you should have asked me directly through a private message. Just this once (and don't make me regret it, please), I won't pitch a fit about it. I figure we'll keep the discussion going here and maybe split it later.

Best, Ron

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Daniel B
Member

Posts: 196

Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #34 on: December 01, 2008, 06:58:32 PM »

Which, for me, means two things:

1) that some sort of a typology of players (without associating any stigma with any type, yadda yadda general PC-ness) may be useful;
and 2), ever more importantly, that these different types of players can mesh into different modes of group play.

Players are not made identical, and since actual play is not simply some sort of larger player, maybe there's a functional social dynamic that can be based on certain types of differences instead of certain types of similarities?

DWeird, you hit the nail on the head of my reasons for starting the thread, although your #2 hadn't occurred to me yet (.. at least, consciously). Excellent point!

As a Dungeon Master, I have tried very hard to balance the game towards some mode that satisfied each of the players' individual tastes, with some success. For example, I have two players in particular who could be classified as gamists in the Forge sense, because their sole purpose of playing the game is to simply "win", in any context of the game (be it by winning combat, most efficient character build, or killing the enemy and taking it's treasure first). I've had these two in games with a third player, who values interaction with the game world most of all and so was *extremely* resistant to being controlled, including by the NPC authorities even though it was mostly warranted, given his occupation as a thief.

There was a lot of friction between these players because I had a lot of trouble finding the balance. However, when I did strike that balance, the game-play experience was absolutely GOLDEN. The balance was a combat-heavy universe (which I satisfied with a Dark Sun-like universe, built myself for D&Dv3.5) in which the players started the game with free mounts. I also had the latter player discover a special "toy" which granted him even more power to explore the game universe.

Maybe I'm naive, but I believe that it is possible to build RPG games that appeal to a much wider base than many current games. I think these games would draw players in a similar way that the Hollywood blockbuster movies draw audiences: incorporate diverse elements to appeal to different peoples' tastes in a subtle, coherent way. I watched "Quantum of Solace" mostly for the action while my girlfriend watched it mostly for what's-his-face-James-Bond and the romance.

I plan to start watching this thread like a hawk, now that DWeird has opened it up again. I'm currently working on a P&P RPG that tries to incorporate these ideas of balance. I'm trying to construct dials and levers into the game that the GM can use on the fly, to shift the balance of the game to a mode more appealing to the players he/she is dealing with and their moods at the moment. However, the types of modes that can exist is, as far as I'm concerned, still vague and I'm worried my designs are suffering and losing coherence as a result. (I don't quite buy the Big Model, no offense to anyone.) I've been doing research on RPG design, but I would love to see this particular topic explored a lot more deeply.

Dan Blain

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Arthur: "It's times like these that make me wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was little."
Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« Reply #35 on: December 02, 2008, 10:58:30 AM »

Dan, and DWeird, I believe you might be interested Max Higley's breakdown of player motivations & preferences.  There's some discussion of it somewhere on Story Games, but I can't find it at the moment, and there's also a little bit at Cultures of Play over here:  http://culturesofplay.com/comments.php?DiscussionID=123&page=1#Item_0

The chart by itself is certainly worth looking at.

-Marshall
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Marshall Burns
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Posts: 573

American Wizard


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« Reply #36 on: December 02, 2008, 10:59:42 AM »

Oh, spoke to soon, here's the post from Story Games:
http://www.story-games.com/forums/comments.php?DiscussionID=7550
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DWeird
Member

Posts: 87


« Reply #37 on: December 04, 2008, 02:13:47 AM »

Fancy.

I'll try to keep this both kosher and yummy, Ron.

Anyhoo.

Dan: My own major interest isn't as much increasing possible participation, though that may be a good goal to aim for. My reason for this is: I'm fairly sure that if you state your goal like *that*, you'll end up trying to cram up as many games running parallel as you can. Some degree of "parallelism" is probably unavoidable when players aren't absolutelly in sync, but if *all* that a game is several games running side-by-side, you may as well be playing different games.

Like... I don't care as much for blockbusters. Try to please everyone, if you try to smoothen *every corner* so that no one would get a cut - you get a sphere. And sphere's ain't got no edge, man.

Marshall: Thanks! The threads you linked me to made me break up some of the concepts I've been using in my head and look at what pieces of those remain useful.

For one, I no longer want to talk in terms of player typology (uh, I never really did, but I didn't have the sort of language to talk about what I want before... Still don't in full, but it's still good). I want to see what aspects of a player get active in play and how they change. Like... what if the process of getting a player who's not really interested in a game to that "Oh!" moment isn't about, uh, teaching him how to 'accept the game', but rather about finding a certain aspect of a certain player which could snap into a position currently occupied by an aspect that doesn't really fit in?

[My immediate interest in the "Oh!" moment may seem, to you guys, to be an issue that, while important, is something altogether different from the design of the actual game... Now, my game is a community game, meaning that there is a flux of players going in and out. The 'in' is almost always of people who aren't really sure what they're doing, meaning that there's always some people in the game who don't know what they're doing. Trying to distinguish between "new, needs some help" and "new, likely won't ever find this game interesting in a way that's productive to the rest of us" is therefore crucial.]

Another thing Max Higley's thread made me do is make me look at certain advice given at the Forge differently... More specifically - interweaving "game as rules text", "game as set of procedures", "game as group-constructed imagination". Which means basically that several people that have the managerial "wait, is that in the rules?", strategist "how do I play [in the naughty sense] these rules?" and radical "so why don't we just make a story?" aspects active could very well be playing the same game, "being different people", and having fun at the same time.

Do you think that ever actually happens? Because that's exactly the sort of experience that I'm looking for. I mean - the problem that up to now (to my knowledge) makes people construct player typologies is basically: 'my current game is dysfunctional. I talked to my players and their attitudes are different! I'll try and make my games account for that from now on. Puppies and rainbows, whee!'

Has anybody asked their players if (and how?) their attitudes are different when the game they're playing is fun(ctional)? I think they should.
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