Warhammer; Chaos! Order! Molasses!

Started by Callan S., June 28, 2009, 08:41:40 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Callan S.

Thanks, Jasper!

QuoteDefining bounds is not narcissism, it's knowing what you're good at, and focusing on that. It's striving for quality. If I decline to work for a client, it's not because I think I'm too good for it, it's because I think it's not a good fit. The client would be better served by someone else, and I would be more useful to someone else as well.
Yes, but how did you get good at something that happens to suit (some, not all) other people? It's a bit chicken and egg (argh, your gunna hate me now, after I already brought in the tree thing before!). How did you ever learn to do something that suits someone else, if you've always declined people you didn't currently fit (presuming when you started you could only do something that fits you)? How else could you learn but in taking on someone that doesn't suit you, atleast to some degree?

One answer might be pure darwinistic luck - by chance what is made matches others needs and perhaps by chance further developments, match up. Is this all we have at this stage of roleplay design knowledge? If you don't happen to fit, that's it - darwinistically it didn't work out?

QuoteSuppose I'm asked to create a game specifically for Dan and Matt. The first thing I'll do is try to figure out what kind of people they are, what they like. I'll determine if there is enough of a match between us so that I can declare them compatible with me. Of course, they also have to be compatible with themselves. In short, I'll determine whether they're within my bounds. If I'm confident it's a positive match, them we're on
A little bit off of the topic you raised here, but in terms of multi player computer games I think we match quite alot. And to me - well in one of our early RPG games someone had powers over plants, and he made a tree bend over so we could get over a wall. Awesome cool (well, not as wild these days, but still cool). And I think you could easily have the equivalent of the video game game play (in board game format), but some rule defined capacitity to drop in an object that effectively acts as a tree bent over so we can get over the wall, that totally encapsulates that same imaginative manouver.

So I totally think we match. Eg, that cool tree bending over the wall thing is totally replicable in hard rules, almost full on board game format. I can code that. And basically that's been my mission, to try and encapsulate this stuff. But every time it gets more tangible and closer to hard, board game like rules, it eludes me. It's like the imaginative ideas keep expanding and murkifying to avoid that most demonic of qualities - being a bit like a boardgame. I think it's almost self destructive, as shown in the 'rare hit the payoff' shown in this AP. It's as if being "not a boardgame!!!1!" is more important than hitting a payoff, consistantly or even inconsistantly.

I think imagination imagines its self as being a bit above material things. I think it needs a kick in the arse. Were not here for imagination! Imagination is here for us! Or if other people want to be here for imagination, jeez, okay. But that's probably what makes me sometimes think of overall roleplay culture as looking like a religion, but without the god bits "I can't believe it's not butter/religion!".

Okay, I rambled quite alot there. But I think that's what I'm facing off with, even though I think we match. Clarrified more so for writing it out just now.

QuoteYou could consider RPG design to be like leadership, as you're leading the people at the table through some kind of game experience. But you only lead by consensus.
I might be reading you wrong, but looking for a consensus seems to go against your idea of doing something aimed squarely at yourself? Particularly the idea being that the tribe/group that picks its leader. I'm pretty sure the first game I GM'ed I did so looking for consensus that I could lead as GM. Going on, I tried to compromise to get that consensus. I thought this was the done way of doing things.

For me, if I'm going to do something aimed at myself/lead myself, I don't mean to be impolite, but I'm not interested in being told I need consensus. That's not me. It's not part of me.

That's the thing - are you really doing something aimed squarely at yourself, if ideas which are not part of yourself, like needing consensus, slip in? That's what I was getting at with the blue sky theory - have certain ideas that were not part of yourself slipped into your pattern of behaviour and now you treat doing them as doing something aimed squarely at yourself?

Or to ramble on further - it's not an innate part of me to get consensus on things (while enjoying a beer is an innate part of me). If I do it, I do it as part of dealing with the world and pursuing my goals. Are you talking in terms of getting cosensus being an innate part of you, like enjoying beer is part of you (taking it you like beer, that is). In the same way, do you enjoy getting consensus? Or too tangental a question?

Jasper Flick

QuoteYes, but how did you get good at something that happens to suit (some, not all) other people?

I grew up. I gained experience. Nature & nurture stuff. The Me that's talking to you today is not the same as the Me from a decade ago. At first, you walk around basically at random, later you find direction and purpose, then you limit your scope, and at some point you discover quality.
It's like corporate life. When you first start out, all green, you take on everything thrown at you, desperate to prove yourself. You can't say "No". As you gain experience, you'll stop taking just any crappy job. You know what you're worth and what you want. You've learned to say "No" and discovered that everyone benefits from it.

Now that was the personal level. Take this to the level of RPG design, or any similar field for that matter, and it's the market economy you're dealing with. Then it's simple: make stuff people buy, or die. The trick is to find something compatible with yourself as well as with a sufficient part of the market.

Keep in mind that this is not fixed. What I love now I could dislike after ten years, same goes for the market. Call it progress if you like. All that concerns me when playing now is what I want to play now.

The reality of leadership is that you always need consensus. Without it there's no basis for collaboration. It's always "My way, or ...", whether that's "no way at all", "we're screwed", "I'll kill you", "I won't lead, let someone else", or whatever else. Even a totalitarian dictator rules by consent, because his subjects have agreed they'll suffer his reign instead of throwing away their lives in a bloody revolt. Sure, it's not a formal agreement, but it exists. The subjects will keep re-evaluating the deal and might at some point decide the revolt is the best option after all, if the dictatorship becomes insufferable.

So I guess you do want consensus, but you do not want to compromise or dilute your command once you have it. Basically, you're not a democracy.

In case of playing a game, not getting consensus is equivalent to getting a "No" for your proposal. You cannot force your game upon others in a meaningful way. And in order to prevent a mistaken "Yes" that will degenerate into a "No" during play, you have to make your proposal clear enough and be true to it yourself.

Oh and this does not mean there isn't any wiggle room for the players. It just means that there are solid boundaries. For example: "Standard D&D combat railroad. You could make any character you like, but it better be combat ready, because there won't be any political intrigue and I won't pull punches. And we're not gunning for moral dilemmas, it's black & white and you're white. Any questions?"

The boardgame and chasing after imagination is an interesting tangent, but I won't follow it here, except to note that agenda clashes probably muddle the waters a lot there.
Trouble with dice mechanics? Check out AnyDice, my online dice distribution calculator!

Callan S.

QuoteThe trick is to find something compatible with yourself as well as with a sufficient part of the market.
Gah. This is not for me - this is just darwinistic chance! It's, upon the chance of being presented with a square hole, looking to see if by chance you have a square peg/seeing if square pegs are something compatable with you. Just resting on chance. I thought game design was about working outside of what mere chance has deigned to grant us?

QuoteThe reality of leadership is that you always need consensus
This does not jive with the idea of something aimed squarely at myself. Just because I may need something to achieve a goal, doesn't mean I want it. If you tell me I need something to reach a goal, that doesn't mean I suddenly want & desire that thing. If I don't desire/want consensus, then I don't. I can reach for it, but it's doing something I don't want or desire. It's just a means to an end. If I'm doing something I don't want (even to a small degree), I'm not doing something aimed squarely/entirely at myself.

Is your 'aimed squarely at yourself' design philosophy centered around you wanting consensus? I appreciate you describing it to me, but it does not fit me at all. Maybe my friends do actually like/want/desire consensus to some degree, so while I compromise in seeking consensus, they don't actually compromise at all in seeking consensus. Maybe they can do something aimed squarely at themselves in that way, while I cannot do the same thing as them. Or, flipside, they can't do the same thing as me. Ie, how does one leave ones comfort zone to any degree, if ones doing something aimed squarely at oneself? If you like getting consensus and get it to only the degree you like it, you can't leave your comfort zone. Your still well within that zone.


Quote from: Jasper Flick on July 25, 2009, 12:50:04 PM
Now that was the personal level. Take this to the level of RPG design, or any similar field for that matter, and it's the market economy you're dealing with. Then it's simple: make stuff people buy, or die. The trick is to find something compatible with yourself as well as with a sufficient part of the market.

Trying to find something "compatible" with both myself and the market, seeking a balance that would allow me to express my ideas and my craft a bit and yet survive in the economy is the very focus that pinned down my creation for years. Like all producers and marketing people, we fell in the blind habit of ignoring whatever power we have to shape the market, and contend ourselves with following whatever we guess of it, taking our creations in a downward spiral as the market gets dumb and dumber. If the choice was as you described it, I would say that genuine creation begins when you decide to die instead of trying to make people buy your stuff. Deep down, RPG design is Art. There sure is a market for Art, but I say, artists devoting their creation to the sales, or nodding to them all the way are bound to repetition, copy, bias and weakness. As indie designers, we sure have to ask ourselves the marketing questions and to find ways to have people buy our stuff, not because we need money but because selling allows us to share our art. Yet, I maintain that these questions are better asked afterwards. I believe in passion and in the power of creativity and I'm pretty sure that if even us, indie designers, are bound to the market from the start, all hope for our art genre is gone. Moreover, I don't believe in such a thing as "the market". There are people, there's me and there's you, with all our intricate differences. And I have designed something that might touch you. My only issue is "how can I reach you?", "how can I find a way to channel this to you?". With those questions, I get into new venues, new methods and innovative processes I can't even think of when I'm blurred with the "market" figment. We don't create games to "sell" them. We create games because that's the games we always have wanted to play and can't find anywhere in the "market", because they've been longing in us for ages, because there's something we have to say and put forward. Think of them as of poetry books.

Jasper Flick

I like lasanga, steak, and fish. You like potatoes and lagagna. Ok, let's eat lasagna for the rest of our lives. The end!

Yea right.

Let's try some fish if you've never eaten it before. Oh and I've seen something both of us never even knew existed, let's check that out sometime as well. I'd like to try some dishes I made up too.

Patrice, you're assuming that when I speak of the market, I do so with the fatalistic and risk-averse mindset of a large company. I definitely do not. I do not dumb myself down. I do not limit myself to what's already out there. The market is not a one-way street, or at least it isn't for those who innovate.

You could also replace "the market" with any kind of audience you like, "friends", "family", "RPG buddies", whatever. The wealth you can gain from it could be anything, like money, esteem, pride, friendship, fun, whatever. Though the scale and specifics change, the general principle stays the same: you want to do stuff you like and get a reward for it too.

So make that thing you really like, and let the market judge it. If it's not liked, if the market isn't compatible, then go make something else you really like, and let the market judge that too.
(Oh and yes, if you want to be succesful in the market, then there's a lot of research, marketing, risk management, and other stuff involved, but that's really out of the scope of this discussion.)

Callan, so what if it's darwinistic chance? Whether you like any people - or anyting at all - is darwinistic chance by that same line of thought. Does that invalidate your whole existence? If you have any friends, it's because you're compatible with them, darwinistic chance or not. If you're stuck, all you gotta do is stop trying to ram your round peg into a square hole and check out all those round holes waiting for you, just out of sight. Or use any of your other pegs.

If you want to be a true egocentric, then there's a perfectly viable option: become a recluse. But I guess yo don't want that, because you keep trying otherwise.
Something 'aimed squarely at myself' is something I really like doing. If that's a solo activity, then that's the end of it. If it's a group thing, then those other people need to be compatible with me, they need to like the same thing. Then something 'aimed squarely at myself' automatically becomes something 'aimed squarely at all of us' and things are as best as they can be. Now in reality the match is never 100%, but as long as it's a good enough match you're golden.

The trick is to have more than one of those somethings, so that when people come together, you can pick the best option. Accomodation is choosing a something, perhaps not the very best something you currently have, but it should still be a great something. If it's not something great then it's a rotten deal and you shouldn't take it. (Oh yea, and it could also be trying something new. Does that even need mentioning?)
Next, getting consensus is clearly articulating that something, and getting everyone else to commit to it. Shooting for consensus and getting "No" a few times is a good way to find the right something.

If the match is not good enough, then what? Well, you could just pretend and let the others keep their fun. They're none the wiser, thinking the match is fine. That's what you're doing. Oh, but you've complained already? But have you shut up and keep suffering through it? I guess you should communicate better, because they obviously didn't get it. The psychological barrier might be immense, but you could void the entire deal on the grounds that it was a mistake to accept it in the first place, probably because it wasn't articulated well enough.

Trouble with dice mechanics? Check out AnyDice, my online dice distribution calculator!

Callan S.

Thanks for your efforts, Jasper!

I think we just don't match in certain life choices. If I have a choice about not relying on darwinism, I choose it. It's just what I choose. And in terms of being an egocentric, if there are restrictions, I want to know them so I can express my ego inside those restrictions exactly as my ego wants to. The rest of roleplay culture never seems to advocate any cleared space(s) in which you can be yourself, it always seems to promote being prepared to tone back or withdraw anything in terms of contribution (except where RP culture promotes you being the alpha wolf of the pack), which is essentially going with the flow or following the group mindset. We get some abberations to that now, like in capes you can work the system to do things your way, or in universalis you can build up some coins to do things your way. But by and large RP cultures message is one of conformity.

And in terms of doing something great, if you expose something to a group as if it's great and they think it isn't, your own sense that it's great erodes. You'll even get that here or on other forums "Oh, see, what you were doing didn't match the group..." But it was great!!? Again, I don't match this sort of set up - if I thought painting seascapes is great, I want to work on the techniques of my brush stroke and composition or whatever. It doesn't match me to just do what's great and potentially have that love erode away (any more than it already has eroded). I'm quite prepared to be wrong on my brushstroke, on my composition, etc. But not on what I think is great.

I just don't seem to match up to that model. Thanks it's write up, Jasper.

Jasper Flick

I must confess that I don't understand the issue about darwinism. Darwinism is a way to explain how organisms evolved to be as they are now. It has nothing to do with how we deal with that "now" in the present. When I deal with the "now", I don't care how it came to be in the grand scheme of things. So how do you become successful with darwinism? How do you fix the stove with darwinism? What the hell does relying on darwinism mean? So I think this is either a miscommunication, a red herring, or some philosophical roadblock that I just don't see.

Considering restrictions, I think for that it's useful to consider roleplaying to be primarily an improvisational activity. It allows us to be creative and original and express ourselves in the moment, relatively unrestricted when compared to normal life. Nailing down everything and all options with rules will kill this dead. Trying to explicitly program for every possible action in order to allow creativity is futile, because it disallows us to be truly unique: we can only recycle and recombine within the bounds of the program. It's a fruitful void thing.

So to be improvisational you need a roomy stage to move about. But when it's a group activity you must also avoid stepping too much on other people's toes. Because if you keep disregarding others and step on their toes repeatedly, it'll degenerate into a fight, or you'll end up alone as everyone else decides to leave the stage. Stepping on toes is a fact of life, the issue is how to deal with it.

RPG texts can provide four procedures, the "Four Steps to Keep your Toes Safe", if you like:
1) A warning that stepping on toes can happen.
2) How to detect it when it happens (whether you're doing the stepping, being stepped on, or neither).
3) How to decrease the likelihood of it happening.
4) What to do if it does happen.

Now if you have a well-attuned group of people, they can do any kind of wild improvisational dancing and not step on each other's toes at all. They don't need any procedures or restrictions. It might be that a lot of games just assume this is the case and pretend that toe-stepping isn't an issue at all. It are games that assume you just know how to play, that might even assume there's just one way too play. There are also games that include some of the procedures, up to and including number 2 or 3, but leave you out in the water when toes do get stepped on anyway. And there are games that go all the way, and I guess those are the games you want.

It might actually be a fun execise to classify some games according to which procedures they inlude in their text. I postulate that Capes has them all, but I need to read the text again to be sure.

If you think that painting seascapes is great, then sure. If that's your thing then do it, no one can invalidate that. If a group says that painting seascapes sucks, it just means they don't like doing it. It's totally subjective and shouldn't devalue your appreciation of it. You just can't share that partical joy with them in a productive way. So find people who share your love and don't waste time with these bozos. I've been through hell and back to do the things I wanted, to live life like I saw fit, when no one around me appreciated any of it. It made me miserable but never eroded my resolve or sense of value. And I was proved right when I did finally find people compatible with me (never truly 100%, but good enough that it works).

Hey, this thread looks kinda finished to me. It was fun, Callan!
Trouble with dice mechanics? Check out AnyDice, my online dice distribution calculator!


Callan, have you had your fill of this subject for the moment? Because if not I have some summarising observations, this list is not exclusive, but it's all stuff I've experienced:

1 You can learn to like something, by getting why someone else likes it and agreeing with it now you understand it. "Ok so you were trying to do ___, I can see why you might want to, lets do that!"

2 You can not like stuff much but do it for the sake of friends, as a favour to them, not in the economic or mafia sense, where they are in your debt, but just because you want to see them enjoy themselves. A lot of people GM for this reason, especially people GMing for kids.

3 Or you can do it as a mafia style favour! "I played so damn well in your game you better play well in mine" This rarely works, unless you are in the mafia.

4 You can like what someone does in a different way from how they like it, so when participating in it you prefer that part when it comes up.

5 Or you can just like something because it's exactly the thing you like, and the two (or more) of you are on exactly the same page. Awesome.

Some people just go for the last one, and decide that they want to pick people who think closely to themselves, at least on that subject. Some people go for the first, and play really different games in the hope they will expand their understanding of fun. Some people flicker between 2 and 3, not sure which they actually are going for.

I wouldn't try any accounting of accommodation. This just encourages being judgemental, and tolerance bidding: "I forgave you this many things" "Oh yeah, well I keep quiet about this many things". That's a rubbish game, I'd rather play an rpg! :P

The point is whether your satisfaction at their satisfaction is enough, again, unless you are in the mafia.

Actually that's not strictly true: If you play with the right people you can make a different version of that, where everyone tries to benefit the others play style. It's still not strictly accounted favours, but it is everyone working to "making another person awesome" and an expectation that that is the baseline. Still requires the right people, and an understanding of what everyone wants out of the game.

Now that last part requires the sort of harshness that Jasper was talking about; if you say "it's ok with me" then some people will be all like "awesome, we're running on 5" or someone else will be like "great I can run on 2 making this just what Callan wanted". But what if it's not ok for you, if it's bad for you but good for them, and your doing it just for them. Well then you can both be trying to run on the basis of 2, and missing, because your just not giving each other what the other wants! If you can be blunt and say "I want to do _this_ really, but I'm ok doing this because I enjoy you having fun", then that's a bit of pressure for them if they are built that way, or it's a great opportunity for better gaming. You may even find that they were doing it for you too, and are not that interested in it for themselves!

Now that is design talk, that's optimising the experience. That's the kind of stuff I was suggesting earlier in this thread. Building a conversation around the game about how to make it more fun for everyone, testing out the suggestions and finding out if someone else likes it better than the old stuff. So if you are interested in that kind of optimisation, do any of the above list categorise your attitude to the "rewardingness" of play?

(That stuff about the tree bending sounds like fuel for another thread, about "capturing the moment", "fruitful voids" and boardgame style rigour)