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Author Topic: Is actual RP in MMORPGs another next impossible thing?  (Read 9390 times)
Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #30 on: January 19, 2009, 09:39:07 PM »

I want to try to express something about the SIS that has been provoked by this conversation. I've begun and discarded several attempts to address this before.

SIS exists solely within the minds of the players who create it. This, I think, can be considered incontrovertible, unable to be separated from the basic concept. It is created from a consensual and ongoing vote by all of its contributing members.

Mechanics and Color, constituted by the "game system" are the game author's vote. This opens the idea that the author (or game developers) are part of the SIS. They get a vote, they contribute. But the one thing that actually keeps them from being part of the SIS is that they are not taking from the SIS.

Now, the game system is just a vote. This is true in both MMORPGs and TTRPGs. You may think this isn't true in MMOs, because the game code only allows certain things... But it is true.. Because in the SIS, you do not have to accept what happens within the game. Consider the following examples:

City of Heroes: At the end of a long day of fighting crime, Errant was talking to Psionique, sitting on the edge of a rooftop. At this point, there is only a burgeoning friendship. Errant is alien to this world, and Psionique, while fearless in battle, has lead a sheltered life, so there are many things about the world that are unfamiliar to both of them. Eventually, their friendship will grow into a romance, but we're not there yet. After a moment of silence as they think their private thoughts, Psionique asks Errant about his homeworld. In response, Errant stands, and runs off the edge of the building, falling to the ground far below.

What happened? I hit the wrong damned button. I was still new to the game, and occasionally would forget to hit enter before trying to type. Do we somehow have to find a way to work this into the fiction? Absolutely not. Sometimes we might, but we don't have to accept the game's vote. I teleport my way back to the rooftop, and we continue the conversation as though it didn't happen.

Star Wars Galaxies: In the game, there was a cloning system. When you died, you were reborn at a cloning center. Supposedly, your old body died, but you continued with the new one. Let's think about the actual SW universe. Was cloning an every day occurrence, with individuals being reborn as clones? No. It was a way to create armies. The clones weren't rebirths with all your experiences. They were separate people who just happened to be identical to you, genetically. So we had the choice to either embrace this departure from SW Canon, or ignore it. In my own group, we ignored it. When someone 'died', they were simply knocked unconscious and taken to a medical facility where they recovered from their severe wounds in bacta tanks.

So I contend that MMOs are no less SIS-building kits than your average traditional TTRPG. The primary difference is the assumption. Most, though not all, TTRPGs assume you'll form an SIS (though they don't use the term; their authors may not even be familiar with the term, nor do they need to be). I believe that once upon a time, MMORPGs assumed the same thing, though I don't believe that's the case anymore. It is *possible* to enjoy both types of game with or without an SIS. I personally find it hard to enjoy MMORPGs without one. When playing solo, I frequently form an "IIS" (individual imaginative space), and I'll chat with NPCs, or type in in-character comments while I'm out in the hinterlands, all alone.

Re: Narrativism. I again say that no, by default, MMO roleplay is NOT narrativist. Narrativist play involves addressing human premises, answering questions with meaning. While this sometimes happens, most play falls squarely into Simulationist agendas.

How "shared" does an SIS have to be? I think of an MMO kind of like a "Living" Campaign, like "Living Eberron" or "Living Greyhawk". Each individual play group has it's own individual SIS, but there is content that is shared by all, via the mechanics and color of the D&D game, and more specifically the rules of the "Living" Campaigns. Nothing is shared universally by all players in the "Living" Campaign, but there is enough shared that players from two distinct groups can play together. A similar thing may occur in MMOs.. You may be playing your Troll Empire, and I may be playing my Defias Conspiracy, but we both accept that we're playing in the universe of... whatever WoW's setting is called, I forget. I accept that you're Horde, and as such there is animosity and distrust between our races. I may never acknowledge the existence of the Troll Empire, and you may never acknowledge that there's a Defias Conspiracy to take over the throne in Stormreach, but we could meet and roleplay together.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Caldis
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« Reply #31 on: January 19, 2009, 09:47:55 PM »

I think what you need is some examples of actual play that relate to what you are saying.  So far all I see is a few mentions of ideas created in a game but no sign of how players interacted with each other using these ideas in a relevant manner.  

Lets go back to the Troll Empire.  You created this thing as an idea for players to grasp onto in the game but how did they do it? If you managed to have people take the information, accept it as real and base their play on it while interacting with each other then you do have a shared imagined space in action for those people.  Actually you dont even need anything as overt as your troll empire added by the players, they can be using what the electronic game gives them and adding simple things like their own personalities and goals to be creating a SIS.

Did this idea lead to the creation of situation?  What type of situations and how did they resolve these situations?   Did they lead to entirely new situations or the same ones reskinned as something new?  Answer these questions and you'll get an idea of what creative agenda may have been operating.

I'll give you an example from my own experience.

I played Mighty Bruillembar a Tauren hunter in WOW.  A friend of mine played Grailoch an Orc Shaman.  We would often join together and explore the world.  We preferred doing quests and would totally clean out an area of quest before we moved on.  We werent in a rush to level up and we definitely didnt chase after the best equipment and gear.  We created emotes for our characters and hotkeyed them so we would often shout out trade mark sayings, Bruillembar talked in 3rd person quite a lot.  Our play was simulationist and we did have a SIS operating between us.  The scenery provide by the game took the place of minis and descriptions, the quests handed out and the programing of the monsters acted as a gm but the two of us were still imagining and roleplaying.

At times we did try out some things like the battle grounds or grouping to do dungeons, in those instances our CA shifted to gamism.  We were doing our best to win and help our teams compete, survive, and get the big rewards.  It was dependant on our skill.  

I never saw any narrativism happening in game, but it is possible.  It would have to be built by the players whereas our play was more riding on the back of the developers.


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Patrice
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« Reply #32 on: January 20, 2009, 05:17:00 AM »

Well it's just the same point all along, we're talking about two different things in here, and we mix them: There's the MMO itself in which there's no SIS as such, but a virtual space and there's the RPG taking place within (remember the parasite thing?) in which a SIS seems to take place. When playing a MMO one has the choice to build somewhat of a SIS within while doing his quests and levelling thing, but one has also the choice not to, as you point it, Wolfen. I think we all agree upon the fact that, playing RP style within a MMO, one Shares an Imagined Space. The minis and descriptions example is such a good one! Thanks for that, Caldis.

I'm nevertheless a little bit annoyed about the whole SIS idea. If the game's Virtual space provides descriptions, well... Are you sure we can have a SIS? What would be Exploration without descriptions? I dunno if I really get a grasp at the core question, but I'm definitly annoyed to say there's a SIS, even in the parasite game. You provide, Wolfen, in your examples, clear evidence of a Social Contract and my actual play experience backs it, but that doesn't quite solve the SIS question as far as I am concerned. Now when you say one can play a P&PRPG without a SIS... I'm abashed because, Exploring a SIS is the defining thing of a P&PRPG. I must very strongly say that, hell no, one can't play a P&PRPG without a SIS. If there's no SIS, what you have, at best, is a boardgame ("It is *possible* to enjoy both types of game with or without an SIS").

Now there's something I must add. Must. I LOVE your actual play examples. Talking to the NPCs all alone, explore the world together, low-levelling, decide through Social Contract what we'll be doing and define what actually happened. That's all examples I've met, and done myself in my playing MMOs (well *cough* before transforming in some stupid Roxxorz and taking a lot of fun from that btw) and I liked that a lot. That were good times.

Now, concerning CAs, what happened in all my actual play examples is that: We build something with a bunch of fellows, something highly connected to the game background (the Setting) involving Character generation, guild creation and the like. Troll Empire, right, but also Pirates bunch, Twilight Brotherhood, Scarlet Crusade, etc (if only to take WoW examples). We enjoy impersonating fierce jungle trolls with the proper intonations and emotes, meeting points back in the jungle, night patrols, bonfires, etc. Or maybe we gather upon a ship and we sail all day talking like pirates and duelling each other with punches, drinking a lot and spanking the girls. We do it for, say, 6 months and then some day, someone says "aren't you bored to do the same things again and again?". From that, one half of the guild goes straight to PVE and they still empty Naxx on 25 raids as I talk. The other half wonders "Where do we go from there?". One half quits the game altogether. Remains 1/4. This quarter decides to build stories (I remember one of my officers saying "what we lack is stories, involving stories for each of us"). And... slightly changes the Social Contract and the CA into Narrativist patterns. Out of boredom of Sim gaming I would say. They still play nowadays although I have no idea of what their stories might be.

I'm maybe biased because I feel, I must confess, that Sim is a dead-end in itself (of course it's noooooot the issue please, an answer like "you're wrong, idiot" will totally satisfy me here :)).
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Caldis
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« Reply #33 on: January 20, 2009, 07:20:29 AM »

I'm maybe biased because I feel, I must confess, that Sim is a dead-end in itself (of course it's noooooot the issue please, an answer like "you're wrong, idiot" will totally satisfy me here :)).

If you've read Ron's essay on Sim that is his big question about it.  Why keep doing the same thing over and over and yes in MMO's that is a problem and most of them do lose people over time.  They do manage to change it up a bit by adding new areas you can move on to with new quests and other skills to develop like crafting in the end though the game does become monotonous IME.

The game is providing support for this SIm style of play, giving things like skills and levels to work with.  It doesnt do any of the heavy lifting for narrativism and several facets of the game actively work against addressing premise (you cant really change the environment). 

As for Shared imagined space I think you are misunderstanding the term, I prefer to just use exploration which means virtually the same thing according to the glossary.  We imagine fictional events and establish them by communicating them with each other.  I have my character run off to attack a wild boar using the game as a tool, you see this action and follow along.  We communicate across a visual medium, maybe we have a voicechat program and talk as well or else we type out messages that add to what is happening. 
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2009, 12:41:25 AM »

Last time I'm gonna say it, I promise...

Stories DO NOT equal narrativism.

A growing, evolving, changing and deepening character is a big, big hallmark of sustained simulationist play. I don't mean going up in levels. I mean deepening personality and exploration of what it is to be this person in this situation. I'm a bigtime sim player. I could tell you stories spanning years of play, with deep romances, epic battles, betrayals, reconciliations.. All of the stuff you love about your favorite books. And almost all of it falls squarely into the Simulationist agenda. We may sometimes have drifted into Narrativist play, like when we explored questions like "What is the price of Virtue?" or "How far does trust extend?" in Ultima Online. We didn't think of it as a deep thing, and it wasn't purposeful. We just played our characters, and the questions arose and were in turned answered as a result of our play.

In short, "you're wrong", but you're not an idiot. ::grin::

Quote
...decide through Social Contract what we'll be doing and define what actually happened.

"What Actually Happened" is the SIS. The "deciding through Social Contract" part is what makes it shared. We, collectively (largely implicitly) decide what "actually" happens within the fiction. What "actually" happened was that we had our rooftop conversation without any jumping in CoH. What "actually" happened was that you were unconscious and badly injured, not dead, in SWG. So long as a group of players accept a given version of the fiction, that is a Shared Imaginative Space.

Finally: TTRPGs without an SIS; You can play D&D using all of the mechanics, and imagine absolutely nothing. To argue that D&D is no longer a roleplaying game at that point may be valid, but in that case, neither is an MMORPG a roleplaying game if played without an SIS.. And if you play ANYTHING with an SIS, it instantaneously transmogrifies itself into a RPG. That starts leading toward the thorny, downward-spiraling discussion of what exactly defines an RPG, though. For my purposes, D&D is an RPG, no matter how it's played, and it can be played, and enjoyed by a certain set of people, without an Imagined Space of any sort, shared or otherwise.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Patrice
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« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2009, 09:23:19 AM »

Well, since the very thread now seems to be hanging upon definitions I'll have to sort this one way or another. Then *coughs* sorry for being such a nerd here but I'm a bit tired of arguing over and over about established things sooooo here are the definitions in the Big Model:

[Social Contract [Exploration]]. Exploration means "shared imaginings." The sharing has to be explicit and agreed upon, usually through the spoken word although any form of communication counts. The imaginings have to be the subject that is shared, which is why me reading aloud to my wife does not constitute Exploration. We are independently imagining based on the spoken word, but neither she nor I is telling the other what we imagine from that point. Exploration means that such communication is occurring.


Upon Story Now:

Story Now requires that at least one engaging issue or problematic feature of human existence be addressed in the process of role-playing. "Address" means:
   Establishing the issue's Explorative expressions in the game-world, "fixing" them into imaginary place.
   Developing the issue as a source of continued conflict, perhaps changing any number of things about it, such as which side is being taken by a given character, or providing more depth to why the antagonistic side of the issue exists at all.
   Resolving the issue through the decisions of the players of the protagonists, as well as various features and constraints of the circumstances.


And

Jesse: Now we come to a point of personal confusion. Pastiche. I still don't get it, in any medium. If the Situation involves "...class conflict, people being trapped by their social position, repressed romance..." and the GM lets the players resolve it anyway they like, then how is that not Narrativist?

Ron: It is Narrativist. What you're describing is not pastiche, or more clearly, it typically does not produce pastiche. The key is the "resolve it any way they like" part.

I'll try to keep it short then. There are two issues: the MMO and the RP game happening within. In the MMO itself, there's no Exploration. If Exploration is involved, it's in the RP game happening within that it is involved. Then, and it's the second issue, the Exploration happening within the MMO is doomed from the start because it's Sim that will never change the MMO itself, its universe, that's why, if it goes on, it does despite the MMO. When this RP game goes on despite the MMO its only option is to become Narrativist. Why? Because the Exploration happening then MUST happen the way the players like, anyway the players like, basing upon their own issues instead of the game content's one.

That's my whole sort of demonstration about MMOs and P&PRPGs. I don't want this thread to turn in a game of throwing "you confuse the terms" at each other's face, so that's why I brought the definitions in. Maybe this is the root of what I think is a misunderstanding because if you simply read, just read what Exploration is about, you can't possibly say that a MMO is Exploration in itself nor that it does involve it. Actually, it's almost the contrary of what Exploration is about. And yes, Caldis, using Exploration does well better than using SIS, even though the reasoning stands for the SIS as well, if only upon slightly different grounds.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2009, 12:28:51 PM »

I'm not sure where you're going with the whole point of RP not changing the MMO. RP in TT gaming doesn't change the rules of the game, either. It doesn't have to. There's absolutely nothing doomed about it, because that is the case in all games. You can imagine anything you want in any game, and it has no effect on the text of the game you're playing. I don't think RP necessarily happens despite the MMO, because a lot of times the in-game events inform and affect the roleplay. Sometimes, the RP happens because of the MMO. It would be true to say the reverse though.. The MMO goes on despite the RP.

Also, the transition from Sim to Nar isn't by any means inevitable. I'd actually say it's rare; The exception rather than the norm. The important part about Nar is the issue. Often, there is no issue, and people don't want to explore an issue. They want to explore a situation, which, done in earnest, can entertain far longer than simply playing a game.

But you're right. Exploration in the roleplaying sense does not happen in MMOs without RP. You can explore the game world, but that's an entirely different sort of exploration.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Callan S.
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« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2009, 01:04:23 PM »

I'll try to keep it short then. There are two issues: the MMO and the RP game happening within. In the MMO itself, there's no Exploration. If Exploration is involved, it's in the RP game happening within that it is involved. Then, and it's the second issue, the Exploration happening within the MMO is doomed from the start because it's Sim that will never change the MMO itself, its universe, that's why, if it goes on, it does despite the MMO. When this RP game goes on despite the MMO its only option is to become Narrativist. Why? Because the Exploration happening then MUST happen the way the players like, anyway the players like, basing upon their own issues instead of the game content's one.
I think that's an interesting hypothesis.

What I'd say, somewhat in support of it, is that although the only real option for explorative play to become narrativist, the players have to actually realise it instead of staying fixated on the games mechanics. And will they realise it? And will they realise it all at the same time?

I'd refer you to RPG.nets computer games forum, where post after post about wow (and there are many) fixate heavily on DPS (damage per second), armour points, is mutilate/whatever power nerfed and 'theory craft', on and on. Indeed, I think theory crafting probably is simulationist exploration (particularly the 'theory craft', given that most bosses have a youtube tutorial in about a week, it isn't needed), but at a stark, almost entirely pure numbers level. But it's basically the only exploration they can find in the game, so they seem to latch onto it fiercely, even though it's not much more than spreadsheet manipulation. Worse, actually fixating on exploring these numbers does pay off in little boosts (but which are frankly not needed to achieve goals - they just speed it up, which isn't important to the long term mmorpg player 'because playing for long periods is fun!'), so this number fixation has a system reward*.

BUT at the same time its as bland as hell, while a bit of soap opera style play is far more thrilling and oomphy, right here, right now!

ALSO I'd say the desire for narrativism is very natural in humans. I don't know about Lances statement that sim to nar is rare, but the desire for nar is quite common in people.

But they'd have to realise this. And they need other people to have realised it at around the same time (I wonder how many realised it alone, had no one to play with, so slipped back into spreadsheetdom?).

And not all narrativist play is compatable with all nar play - some of it clashes. But I'll grant, people probably identify kindred intent and work something out between them, for the overall narrish good.

I think your hypothesis is interesting - I think there is a strong potentiality for narrativism to pop up (probably much like it did in early TT games, like champions or what have you). But I don't think play heads towards narratavism - it just develops a strong potential for it to suddenly crop up**. But at the same time, the spreadsheet exploration catches many in its net. How does that sound?


* And I have to wonder if any of them self reflect on what they came to the game originally for...for the rich and amazing game world? Then why are you fucking around with numbers these days? Why didn't they go play in spreadsheet world? Why, because they're not actually interested in numbers, they just fixate on numbers because their will has been subverted somehow. Seriously, if you had given them all a choice between a richly detailed world and spreadsheet world, they'd all have chosen the rich one. Given that that would have been their will, and now they are playing spreadsheets, one can only think their will has been subverted (in a similar way to a problem gambler).

** But it has a most unfortunate reward loop - they don't get a reward for doing it, rather it's because normal play is so boring, breaking away from it is a pleasure. It's like normally being being hit with a stick, but if you do X activity the stick stops. Sure, it feels good to stop being hit, but it relies on you having to put up with suck to begin with. And if you actually like the stick beating (ooh, yes mistress!), why stop?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2009, 01:26:47 PM »

Hi Lance,

I'm not sure where you're going with the whole point of RP not changing the MMO. RP in TT gaming doesn't change the rules of the game, either. It doesn't have to. There's absolutely nothing doomed about it, because that is the case in all games. You can imagine anything you want in any game, and it has no effect on the text of the game you're playing.
I think your overlooking that the landscape in a mmorpg literally IS a rule. That tree over there IS a rule (try running through it). That bush IS a rule (try seeing through it). That hill IS a rule. That house...etc, etc. They are all as much rules as rolling to hit is a rule in TT. In TT, the tree isn't a rule, typically, but more of an assertion that appeals to group sympathy.

In table top roleplay, you can go and chop that tree down and you are not ignoring any rules in doing so (typically). In a mmorpg, if you say you have chopped down a tree, your just plain ignoring the rule that is that tree. Your imagined event is parasitic to the game, because you ignore the games rules except where they favour you. And thus in the imagined space, the games rules effect on that imagined space, starts to die off. I sympathise with your roof and clone example - I'd do the same thing, I'd think. But that'd be be parasitic as well - by ignoring the rules of the game, their effective presence in the imagined space starts to die off. If I ignore the roof or clone thing, I benefit, while the rules presence in the SIS suffers/dies off, making my play parasitic.

Quote
The MMO goes on despite the RP
And that would be the mmorpg being parasitic on the player - whatever the player likes to imagine, the mmorpg just takes his subscription and goes on regardless, taking a benefit from someone imagining things (the subscription money they paid in order to imagine) but ignoring the content of that imagination and leaving it to wilt and die off.
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #39 on: January 21, 2009, 09:19:32 PM »

Callan,

I'm reading you, and everything you're saying seems like you're agreeing with me. Then you make the parasitic point, which sounds like you're disagreeing with me.

I'm not sure I see the value in the parasitic thing. Can you unpack this for me? Because I don't really see what bearing it has on.. well, anything. The impact of the rules on the imagined space is always just the developer's vote, and like any vote, it can be over-ridden. (This is true even of a GM's vote in a trad game, though their vote is often upheld by the Social Contract, which usually states that the GM is the final authority)
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Callan S.
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« Reply #40 on: January 21, 2009, 11:45:28 PM »

I'm saying Patrice's point is supported when you vote via system use itself, rather than voting on whether you use system at all. Take universalis - if someone spends some coins to say your cloned when you die, then your cloned when you die (or you spend coins against that being the case or however universalis works). You don't spend coins on clone death and then after that also decide as a group whether you use system at all to determine if your cloned on death. The only voting that happens is through system use.

I think Patrice is saying that in a mmorpg, if you only vote via system use, basically the only thing you can change is what phat armour and sword your guy carries (and explains why WOW users had orgasms once the patch came in that allowed them to change their characters hair style - something that seems relatively banal). In terms of exploration/change only via system use, it's so restricting it's likely to prompt people to look to other types of fun (like nar) or quit altogether.

Why vote only by system? The same reason you do in universalis - because that is the game. Making up a second voting system to decide whether you use the first system...that probably gets into Patrice's parasite idea, as the second voting system 'feeds' on the first system. But I'm probably over posting now...
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gsoylent
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« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2009, 04:51:10 PM »

Hi Lance,

In table top roleplay, you can go and chop that tree down and you are not ignoring any rules in doing so (typically). In a mmorpg, if you say you have chopped down a tree, your just plain ignoring the rule that is that tree.

Actually, in most table top games,  the player can't just cut the tree down. Normally the player announces his intention to cut down the tree but it doesn't really happen, doesn't become part of the SIS, until the GM approves it. Depending the GM might just wave it past, might request a skill roll or may even explain why cutting down the tree is not possible ("You can't just cut down a tree in broad day light in the middle of city street, you're going to get yourself arrested.").

What I am getting at is that in both MMO and tabel top roleplaying, you are  often reliant on a consensus building process to insert things into the SIS. Obviously table top is more flexible about such things. But that is just a feature of the medium rather than a principle. 
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gsoylent
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« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2009, 04:52:24 PM »

Ah crud, quotes got all messed up.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #43 on: January 22, 2009, 08:11:01 PM »

Not to mention you were quoting myself, rather than Lance! :)

What do you mean when you say it's a feature of the medium? It's a feature of the medium, whether the rules ask you to form a consensus or not?
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #44 on: January 22, 2009, 08:41:09 PM »

It's a feature of the medium of TTRPGs that what is possible via the game mechanics is more flexible, because it doesn't require the developers to write rules for every single thing the players may want to do. They simply put in a rule that allows the GM to make the call (yes, you can cut down the tree), or allows the GM to make new rules based on the existing rules (ask the character to make a "woodcutting" check, when previously there was no skill or trait for woodcutting)

it's a feature of the medium of video games that everything that the player wants to do mechanically must be anticipated by the developers, and code must be written to support it. If this doesn't happen, it cannot occur mechanically.

I'm not overlooking the landscape at all. The landscape, the "physics", the hidden mechanics of effectiveness the fictional content in the setting (color), all of that falls into the system's vote. You can't exactly vote via the system... You can vote to allow the system's contributions into the SIS. When Errant defeats a Clockwork Prince, we vote to allow that action to become "what actually happened".

I don't think you're making this mistake, but I think it bears stating plainly: When I say vote, I don't mean a literal vote. No one has to say "I approve this thing." Most times, the vote is silent acceptance. Only when you vote against a thing does it actually become verbalized.

Also, just to pick a nit, not to start a new line of discussion...

Quote
The only voting that happens is through system use.

In the nicest way possible, I call bullshit. I've never played the game, but I really, really doubt that the same unspoken voting that goes on in any other game is absent from Universalis. I will accept that silence is consent can be considered part of the rules. But what about the frown of disapproval that doesn't warrant a coin, but which may make you alter your narration a bit? What about the suggestions that pop up when you're making a contribution? What about the assumption of genre conventions that may very well override the system? "No, you cannot have a laser. We agreed that this is sword and sorcery before we even started." How about the enthusiastic agreements that encourage you to keep going in a particular vein? I doubt that just because Universalis has a mechanically formalized voting mechanic that these things go away.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
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