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Author Topic: rpg theory  (Read 2808 times)
xechnao
Member

Posts: 108


« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2009, 06:39:47 AM »

Simply exploring an open world freely doesn't in any way imply moral conflict or difficult choices. Nor vice versa. They can go together, but they don't need to, and often don't.
Yes, but from a first person perspective -and by this I mean that you actually make part of the world- you'll have to make the moral choices the world comes with. It is hard to imagine anyone during his course of life not having to come up with tough choices. Of course there are people more privileged economically but happiness is not guaranteed, rather it is a matter of ongoing struggle. It is even harder for the less privileged people and unfortunately for many more it is impossibly so -at least till today.     
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xechnao
Member

Posts: 108


« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2009, 06:57:25 AM »

Hi Patrice

What if there was some strategic achievement meter used for tracking casual and permanent goals. Casual goals being an action zooming-in where it allows you to explore things, to learn new things while permanent goals those that more or less condition your true goal status or situation -staff like permanent "bonds" or "scars" -enemies, vendettas, love and things like that. 
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mcv
Member

Posts: 34

Martijn Vos


« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2009, 07:17:26 AM »

Simply exploring an open world freely doesn't in any way imply moral conflict or difficult choices. Nor vice versa. They can go together, but they don't need to, and often don't.
Yes, but from a first person perspective -and by this I mean that you actually make part of the world- you'll have to make the moral choices the world comes with. It is hard to imagine anyone during his course of life not having to come up with tough choices.
Of course tough choices can always happen, but as far as I've just come to understand it, that doesn't necessarily make it Narrativism. Otherwise I've never played anything other than Narrativist campaigns in my life.

But I'll agree that the seperation between sim and nar can be very fuzzy at times.
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Martijn Vos - gamer, coder, soon-to-be dad
Vulpinoid
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Posts: 936

Kitsune Trickster


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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2009, 06:04:49 PM »

Cadwallon had a few interesting experiments regarding Chararacters' agenda but it's drowned in a mechanism set that doesn't support it. It's like most of Cadwallon content, it's a patchwork. And a heartbreaker too and it's unplayable without home corrections. Everybody designed his own bit and everything didn't match when we sew it together. It's a game that wanted too much with too many constraints to allow it.

As one of the official English language playtesters for Cadwallon, I can tell you that there were a community of us who tried to make the system more streamlined and user friendly. You're right that it is a patchwork of systems and mechanisms, many of which seem to be in place purely for the aim of complicating things.

It could have been a great system in a great setting, if only someone had listened to the playtesters...or if it hadn't been designed by committee.

As for my earlier comment about "The Sims" being known as "The Nars", let me quote text from the back of the original box...
Quote
Create your Sims - Design their personalities, skills and appearance.
Control their lives - Guide your Sims' relationships and careers, for better or for worse.
Build their neighbourhood - Move your Sims into a pre-built house or build your own from the ground up.
Tell their story - Create Sim Web pages with the push of a button and share your Sims with the world.

Having played the game, it's much like a lot of other RPGs; you can play it for simulationism, or you can play it for narrativism. The bit about "Tell their Story" obviously implies that this was one of the design goals for the programmers.

In much the same way that people buy different sets of roleplaying rules to achieve different methods of play, different computer games can be used to engender different experiences of play. I don't think anyone will argue over that one.

The Sims had a dramatic impact on the computer game community, some even making the claim that it revolutionised the industry. In light of this, I still stand firm by my earlier comment that if D&D had used "The Sims" game model as a basis, it would have opened things up in much the same way for tabletop games, instead of cycling back to the origins of roleplaying games as we know them (developing from the context of miniatures and wargaming).

As for that last comment...
Of course tough choices can always happen, but as far as I've just come to understand it, that doesn't necessarily make it Narrativism. Otherwise I've never played anything other than Narrativist campaigns in my life.

I think that every campaign that I've played in (and virtually every game that's been memorable) has had a story in it. That's one of the things that makes it memorable.

I certainly remember more session details from nights of roleplaying than I remember details about specific games of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit or Pictionary. Whether the story has been pre-loaded or developed through play isn't the issue, but if you're saying that any level of story developed through play instantly refers to narrativism then I'd have to say that every roleplaying game I've participated in has had Narrativistic elements.

I wouldn't say that they've all been Narrativist, as some have favoured aspects of exploration (external or internal to the character), while others have favoured competitive play (between players and GM, or between players themselves).

V
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A.K.A. Michael Wenman
Vulpinoid Studios The Eighth Sea now available for as a pdf for $1.
mcv
Member

Posts: 34

Martijn Vos


« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2009, 11:54:03 PM »

I think that every campaign that I've played in (and virtually every game that's been memorable) has had a story in it. That's one of the things that makes it memorable.

But story by itself doesn't mean it's narrativism. From what I've been told on this forum, you can have strong, powerful stories in simulationist or gamist play. But usually those stories are either mostly predetermined by the GM, or they emerge by accident (which is amazingly cool when it happens). In Narrativism, you focus directly on creating a story through play by focusing directly on dramatic decisions and moral dilemmas.

Almost any kind of play will have some degree of dramatic choices, but only when those choices are more important than winning the fight or exploring the world or your character, only then is the game more narrativist than gamist or simulationist.

But I think most good games are a mix of the three. It's just a matter of where your primary focus lies and what the fortunatel by-products are.

At least, that's how I understand it so far. But this theory is still pretty new to me.
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Martijn Vos - gamer, coder, soon-to-be dad
xechnao
Member

Posts: 108


« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2009, 12:42:06 AM »

But story by itself doesn't mean it's narrativism. From what I've been told on this forum, you can have strong, powerful stories in simulationist or gamist play. But usually those stories are either mostly predetermined by the GM, or they emerge by accident (which is amazingly cool when it happens). In Narrativism, you focus directly on creating a story through play by focusing directly on dramatic decisions and moral dilemmas.

I think the premise of this thread is to look for some mechanic that tells how these cool "accidents" may happen -but leaving choice of what happens as far as PC behavior is concerned to the players.
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mcv
Member

Posts: 34

Martijn Vos


« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2009, 03:47:54 AM »

I think the point of Narrativism/Story Now is to force those accidents to happen by making some of the elements that lead to those accidents the central focus of the game. Some new RPGs developed here assist in this process by providing specific mechanisms to enhance that focus, and to give the players tools with which to make those tough choices and dramatic decisions that should lead to good story.

In fact, I think Narrativism/Story Now basically boils down to:
  • A desire for engaging story developing naturally through play (rather than following a story by a single player (usually the GM))
  • A willingness to make it the central focus of the game, at the cost of other things you might want from play
  • Mechanisms that assist in focusing on the elements that might produce engaging story
Note that you can have some of these without having them all. Is that Story Now? In some ways it is, in some ways it's not. You can play Nar without a system that supports it, but you'll have to work harder at it. It's like simulationism in D&D, I suppose.

Opinions may differ on what elements of play usually result in engaging story and how to call those elements, but terms bandied about include "premise", "moral dilemma", "tough choices that may cost you something", "finding answers to a question about the human condition", etc. Not all of these are the same, but they can overlap. Exactly what works best for a specific group may vary, I suppose.

Note that I've only recently learned about narrativism, and it was pretty vague at first because everything written about it failed to get to the point. I'm secretly hoping that the above contains the central point I was looking for.
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Martijn Vos - gamer, coder, soon-to-be dad
Callan S.
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Posts: 4268


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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2009, 01:20:20 PM »

Hi Martijn,

Yeah, as I'd put it, Nar is rigged. Deliberately pushing the planchette towards stuff. Morally ambiguous/shocking/cool stuff.

Which, on a side point, is why I can never understand why people think the SIS decides anything in terms of game options. Once you know the planchette can be moved, how can you ever go back to thinking no one moves it? Though I've considered that like you might know your character might decide to do something, that same principle might be applicable to the inanimate matter in an imagined world. So the dirt and the rocks and the trees, etc are like some big character and their physics are one big characters expression or something (but this really does involve adding some animus to all inanimate objects). But I've gone overboard on this side point!
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Luke
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Posts: 1360


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« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2009, 03:02:07 PM »

Xen,
I feel like an old man saying this, but you seem to be questing for mechanics that have already been thoroughly explored in roleplaying games, both new and old. Rewarding players for engaging with the system in a manner satisfying to them is pretty standard fare.

Check out games like Prince Valiant, Inspectres, Dogs in the Vineyard, Primetime Adventures and even Mouse Guard if you're feeling daring.

D&D rewards a specific type of play. You are correct in that analysis. D&D is a good game because of its focus, but D&D is not the only way to play.

-Luke
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mcv
Member

Posts: 34

Martijn Vos


« Reply #24 on: February 19, 2009, 03:57:42 PM »

Yeah, as I'd put it, Nar is rigged. Deliberately pushing the planchette towards stuff. Morally ambiguous/shocking/cool stuff.

Which, on a side point, is why I can never understand why people think the SIS decides anything in terms of game options. Once you know the planchette can be moved, how can you ever go back to thinking no one moves it?

That's a good point, and now that I think about it, I think I enjoy the illusion that nobody is moving the planchette, even when they are.
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Martijn Vos - gamer, coder, soon-to-be dad
Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


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« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2009, 05:58:04 PM »

That's a fine thing to enjoy! It's like enjoying wrestling as if it were real, even though it's fake. Or enjoying a magic show, even though there isn't magic involved.

One of the agonising things for me is that I can enjoy play as if it events just naturally develop of their own accord. But when I try to say, even here on the forge, that behind the scenes people are just making choices, it's utterly refuted, by and large. It's like when I was a teen and my friends believed wrestling was real/was a real event. Just a few months ago (were all 30+ now) they mentioned it was fake and it was such a relief for me! Because I enjoyed watching it every so often right from teenagerdom, but I never really shared that enjoyment with them because even though we both enjoyed watching the same events, they believed in it, while I merely enjoyed the idea of believing in it (like one enjoys a magic show). We were so close to enjoying the same thing...that's why it's such a relief now. I get the same thing with the roleplay community - people who genuinely believe, rather than enjoy the idea of believing.

Gah, that was meant to be of aid to you, but it's probably more me having a grumble! Hopefully it's of some aid.
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