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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [d&d4e] Puzzles in RPGs  (Read 13706 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #60 on: September 28, 2009, 01:01:43 AM »

Misha, I really don't believe you've been arguing against doing it without prior warning all this time - I think you've been arguing against doing it at all, ever. Even the last sentence of your last post doesn't have a caveat toward letting the players see the idea in advance and decide for themselves - you just decide for them they wont like it, by arguing a GM/designer out of ever presenting it to them to begin with. Probably because you just don't like it.

But regardless what I believe to be the case, you've said your piece on the matter and so have I. So I'll leave it there...ah heck, I'll say this on 'gaps' - I could write a game that has gaps in it and they wouldn't be there to facilitate anything. They would just be gaps. A game where 'they are just gaps' is thus quite possible. Which is good reason not to be entirely certain that gaps in a game are facilitating anything. If it's possible for gaps to just be gaps, it's possible the gaps you think are facilitating something are just gaps that are gaps.

Cheers,
Callan
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AzaLiN
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« Reply #61 on: September 30, 2009, 01:11:42 PM »

Game world and Gamism

If I'm not mistaken, in movies stories don't unfold naturally. They follow a certain plot arc- intro, ascending action, peak, reversal, climax and resolution- and it seems to me this isn't how things happen in real life except in rare escalating scenarios. The movie world seems to conform to the dramatic world.

Likewise, in Legend of Zelda Link to the Past, and other games, the world is designed to facilitate the game, not the other way around- although, certainly, the opposite approach is used elsewhere.

The Resident Evil mansion makes no sense. Its still awesome.

In a gamist game, the game world has to be illogical. Fact is, its illogical to get into so many fights with monsters or find ANY puzzles at all in a real medieval setting. NPC reactions to bloody, sword wielding maniacs in town, aggressive bargaining, shops, the idea of the PCs forming an adventuring party- they're all concessions to the drama or the gamism.

Thus, the gnoll puzzle doesn't violate how the game world works. It just needs to be made an understood part of that world, that, "in this world, when you come to a river with a 2 person boat, its a puzzle, and that's as natural as rain, much like insane villagers who won't tell you what you need to know until you collect the quest item or get revenge on the butcher for the food poisoning.' An abstracted world.

That being said, although when you combine gamism with world-logical-ness, you can go too far in either direction, but if you're trying to run gamist puzzles and you spend too much time focusing on the world being logical, then of course every puzzle will jarr the players like crazy. Likewise, in a gamist game, when NPCs start acting logically and the world starts working normally, that's also jarring.

A neat trick, borrowed from the Old School, is to have dungeons. Logical world, plus dungeons where logic doesn't quite apply and puzzles and random fights make sense.


Do GNS terms apply here?

A gamist world (puzzles) is one where everything's a competition and a challgenge, set up to facilitate the game.

A simulationist world is a consistent world that makes sense that you join with.

A narrativist world is one where you get what you want if you try hard enough, or want it badly enough, or its dramatic enough

and gamist-simulationist is one where the world is made of puzzles and challenges, and your a part of that world, working through it all like everybody else... That sounds sort of badass to me :D
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Callan S.
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« Reply #62 on: September 30, 2009, 04:15:16 PM »

Well put, Azalin! That artificial structure that facilitates actually getting at what you want to get at. Otherwise the world just mosies on as it would - and much as alot of real life isn't particularly thrilling or enlightening, so to the game is not thrilling or enlightening. Except on rare "remember that one time, years ago" occasions that the nar and gamism essays already talk about groups who rely on that for their play forfilment.

If you can manage it, plausibly following the game worlds rules is nice. But I think it's better to suceed at that artificial structure and yet fail at plausible game world rules than to suceed at plausible game world rules and yet fail at having that facilitating structure. If someone wants to ignore that structure every time plausible game world following is harmed, I don't think they want gamism/nar.

Though I'll say your summing up of nar isn't really correct. I wont' say this is perfectly accurate, but if you have two compeating beliefs or desires but physical circumstances say you can only hold onto one, which do you choose? How does one choose between beliefs and desires? By what criteria? Only at the moment of play will we see the choice made.
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otspiii
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« Reply #63 on: October 01, 2009, 08:56:49 AM »

The issue isn't realism, which I agree isn't especially helpful, but self-consistency.  If monsters occasionally stop being monsters and start being puzzle pieces it makes it hard to plan ahead and strike a path of expected effectiveness, which destroys some types of gamist play.  I guess it all goes into the flavor of gamism you want to provide; is the game the story of a team of adventurers going out into the world and seizing treasure/XP, or is it a series of semi-connected challenges you sequentially provide the players to overcome?  Both provide gamist challenge, but they are both very different from each other.  I have a slight objection to the latter, although this conversation has made me realize that it's more personal preference than anything else, but I do feel like the one big thing that tabletop games can do that video games and board games and so on can't is to reliably provide challenges that must be approached with creativity and ingenuity rather than computation and efficiency to solve.  The Resident Evil mansion is excellent, despite being unrealistic, but forcing rigid Zelda-esque 'I'll only answer your question if you do this fetch quest for me' challenges on players feels like a waste to me.  I guess my objection isn't that it doesn't work as an RPG, but that it would just work better as a video game.  If you remove all the flexibility and intuition from a RPG system you just end up with a video game with really slow combat, so why not just play a video game instead?

Well, I guess there are plenty of reasons for that, like money, social interaction, the fact that you can design a RP campaign in a few hours in your room while a video game takes a full staff months to years to program, but still.  Flexibility is the one thing roleplaying games can do better than any other type of game.  Flexibility doesn't mean un-challenging, it's just good at setting up a different type of challenge.  That said, I guess there is something to be said for streamlining everything other than the challenge you're specifically interested in providing.

But man, "Solve this math problem to continue" just seems like a pain in the ass to me, even though I really do enjoy them in a non-RPG setting.
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Hello, Forge.  My name is Misha.  It is a pleasure to meet you.
Callan S.
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« Reply #64 on: October 01, 2009, 02:04:40 PM »

Well, making it it harder to plan ahead makes it harder - which is a good quality! And in terms of gamism, you play the game your actually presented with in the moment (or don't), not the game you imagined would happen - this doesn't destroy some types of gamism, it destroys the missplaced idea of what the game would be.

And here we don't end up with a slow combat, we end up with a reasonably difficult fox and goose puzzle (though azalin still hasn't attached a fixed solution to it yet, so he hasn't finished this work yet). I'm kind of thinking that if the self consistancy is damaged at all, the entire package collapses for you, Misha, and that's why your taking one breach and then saying ALL the flexibility and intuition are gone (which is a pretty broad sweep of the brush based on just one fox and geese puzzle, otherwise). Have a look at that link and see if 'the package', especially with it's resiliance against potential violation, is what you enjoy first and foremost.

I'm pretty sure narrativists breach that package regularly as well "My ex turns up just at this moment!?". Though I think alot of sim players have managed to absorb stuff like this until it becomes a game world rule (like a trope) that the ex turns up at so and so point as an act of game world causality rather than forcing a moral issue into play (forcing it in just as much as forcing in a fox and geese puzzle). So it might be hard to see and I might just be writing a distraction here.
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otspiii
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« Reply #65 on: October 02, 2009, 12:52:42 PM »

Well, making it it harder to plan ahead makes it harder - which is a good quality! And in terms of gamism, you play the game your actually presented with in the moment (or don't), not the game you imagined would happen - this doesn't destroy some types of gamism, it destroys the missplaced idea of what the game would be.

This actually is a good example of my big problem with GNS.  Well, not GNS itself, even, but how people use it.  Gamism is a category of play, not a Platonic form.  There are tons and tons of sub-categories of gamist play, and someone who enjoys one will not necessarily enjoy the others.  Telling your players "Shut up, this is gamism, you like it, and if you don't it's just because you have faulty expectations" strikes me as really really really simplistic.  When you run a game you should be factoring in what your players tastes are, and 'Gamism' isn't a taste so much as an umbrella hovering over a multitude of similar but distinct tastes.  The players should be doing their best to enjoy whatever you provide them to, but you have to meet each other half way.  Blaming it entirely on your players being small minded is just a way of running from the responsibility of running an enjoyable game.

Also, hard does not universally equal good in almost any form of Gamism.  A certain level of difficulty is needed, but more is only better to a certain point.  By that logic telling your players that they have to memorize and recite 1000 line poems to cast spells, that their damage outputs will be determined by how many pushups they can do in 5 minutes, or that to succeed they have to roll all 10s on 5d10 would be uniformly good things.  Removing the ability to plan just cuts out entirely a form of challenge, and while it does make other aspects of the game more difficult there are many many many other ways to set an enjoyable difficulty without removing entire blocks of challenge.

Have a look at that link and see if 'the package', especially with it's resiliance against potential violation, is what you enjoy first and foremost.

You're making weird assumptions about my priorities.  I am discussing this topic with you, so this topic is at the forefront of my discussion.  This in no way means that it's at the forefront of my enjoyment.  The package is a small positive thing that can be sacrificed if by sacrificing it you gain a larger positive thing.  What I'm against is sacrificing it to gain either nothing or a one-time small thrill.  I really don't care almost at all about how well the game matches up to 'what an Elf is *really* like' or the Star Trek universe or reality or whatever.  Internal consistency with facts already established within the realm of play seems like it should just be a basic tenant of how to run an enjoyable game, though, even if the only consistent element is inconsistency.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #66 on: October 02, 2009, 08:15:33 PM »

In saying my post I'm thinking of a group of players who are there to try a new game - like it is when you try a new board game or card game. I have a few reasons for this, but regardless that's where I'm coming from. Your 'you should meet them half way' thing seems to be talking about players who are not there to try a new game.

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Removing the ability to plan just cuts out entirely a form of challenge, and while it does make other aspects of the game more difficult there are many many many other ways to set an enjoyable difficulty without removing entire blocks of challenge.
Equally being able to knock out/tie up the gnolls removes the fox and geese challenge. It's a matter of which challenge, as designer, you decide on having. Mind you, if players are all telling you what you should have but then insisting they aren't being uninvited co-designers, that'd be problematic.

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You're making weird assumptions about my priorities.  I am discussing this topic with you, so this topic is at the forefront of my discussion.  This in no way means that it's at the forefront of my enjoyment.  The package is a small positive thing that can be sacrificed if by sacrificing it you gain a larger positive thing.  What I'm against is sacrificing it to gain either nothing or a one-time small thrill.
I don't think I am making weird assumptions - for you clearly any esteem given for solving the puzzle inside the box is less than the small postitive you call the package. You call the esteem a one time small thrill, apparently smaller/less valuable than the positive thing you call the package. And previously you called it "Solve this math problem to continue" without even a nod to any esteem given for solving it - as if it were only a matter of continuing.

Regardless, I'm talking in terms of valuing the esteem given for solving the fox and geese puzzle considerably more than valuing a perfectly intact package. If someone values 'planning ahead' more than that esteem on offer - perhaps it is gamism, but it's not a set of priorities I share. My advice revolves around those priorities.
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otspiii
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« Reply #67 on: October 03, 2009, 08:16:08 AM »

In saying my post I'm thinking of a group of players who are there to try a new game - like it is when you try a new board game or card game. I have a few reasons for this, but regardless that's where I'm coming from. Your 'you should meet them half way' thing seems to be talking about players who are not there to try a new game.

Okay, I think this is probably one of the big divides in our perspectives.  I've been approaching this from an angle of 'spice up your D&D game', since that seemed like how it was presented in the OP.  I've said a bunch of times that if you have some good reason to believe that the players will especially enjoy these types of puzzles then it's not so bad to throw them in; having an open license of 'let's try something new' isn't quite there, but it's close.

Equally being able to knock out/tie up the gnolls removes the fox and geese challenge. It's a matter of which challenge, as designer, you decide on having. Mind you, if players are all telling you what you should have but then insisting they aren't being uninvited co-designers, that'd be problematic.

Well, it opens up the choice for the players to ignore a type of challenge, it doesn't remove it.  It lets them choose for themselves if they'd rather gain the esteem for beating it without the KOing or if they'd rather just bypass it.  Also, shouldn't the players always be factored into the designs?  The players should always be co-designers, albiet in a completely passive way.

I don't think I am making weird assumptions - for you clearly any esteem given for solving the puzzle inside the box is less than the small postitive you call the package. You call the esteem a one time small thrill, apparently smaller/less valuable than the positive thing you call the package. And previously you called it "Solve this math problem to continue" without even a nod to any esteem given for solving it - as if it were only a matter of continuing.

Regardless, I'm talking in terms of valuing the esteem given for solving the fox and geese puzzle considerably more than valuing a perfectly intact package. If someone values 'planning ahead' more than that esteem on offer - perhaps it is gamism, but it's not a set of priorities I share. My advice revolves around those priorities.

The esteem from solving a math problem?  For me, significant esteem comes in way harder from coming up with a brilliant and unexpected solution to a problem than from solving a fixed-answer puzzle by rote, even if you have to put more effort into the rote solving.  It's true that the unexpected solutions to the boat puzzle are pretty lackluster, but the boat puzzle is poorly built to take advantage of them, so of course it's not going to encourage good ones.  The thing is, there's no way to brilliantly answer the boat puzzle, there's just the expected way, so any esteem you receive is more based on how quickly you were able to come up with the answer than on how glorious your answer was.  Single-answer computational puzzles put a hard cap on esteem that I really don't like.  You can't really shine with them, you can just not fail.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #68 on: October 03, 2009, 03:11:05 PM »

Okay, I think this is probably one of the big divides in our perspectives.  I've been approaching this from an angle of 'spice up your D&D game', since that seemed like how it was presented in the OP.  I've said a bunch of times that if you have some good reason to believe that the players will especially enjoy these types of puzzles then it's not so bad to throw them in; having an open license of 'let's try something new' isn't quite there, but it's close.
Not so bad? It sounds like your working from some sort of moral code that encapsulates this?

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Well, it opens up the choice for the players to ignore a type of challenge, it doesn't remove it.  It lets them choose for themselves if they'd rather gain the esteem for beating it without the KOing or if they'd rather just bypass it.
I think I gave that option earlier in the thread, but they had to admit they couldn't beat the in the box version first.
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Also, shouldn't the players always be factored into the designs?  The players should always be co-designers, albiet in a completely passive way.
Again the word 'should', which you've used through several of your posts, like a moral code is being invoked?

You might want to reflect on whether there's a design issue here or whether your personal moral code is the thing that's being broken. If I was designing a new, more lethal kalashnikov and you have a moral issue with killing, that doesn't mean my modifications to the gun are badly designed. You wouldn't be discussing design at all, really.

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It's true that the unexpected solutions to the boat puzzle are pretty lackluster, but the boat puzzle is poorly built to take advantage of them, so of course it's not going to encourage good ones.
I don't think there's a great deal of constructive input from you in saying scrap it and think up something else - basically all your doing is trying to take away from what's already been made, and offering no substitute to replace it. I'd actually call it destructive. Is there any substitute you could think up? I think you should hold off saying to scrap the in the box boat puzzle until you have a substitute you can offer, if you want to offer a constructive alternative.

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The thing is, there's no way to brilliantly answer the boat puzzle, there's just the expected way, so any esteem you receive is more based on how quickly you were able to come up with the answer than on how glorious your answer was.  Single-answer computational puzzles put a hard cap on esteem that I really don't like.  You can't really shine with them, you can just not fail.
I'm thinking of starting a new thread on this. Basically a bunch of people who hear an idea and go 'wow, that's great'...means jack shit. In real life it's not ideas that sound great that are great, it's ideas that when applied to physical circumstance, actually work, that are great.

Humans have a massive capacity for bullshitting themselves. The only thing that cuts off bullshitting is when push comes to shove and the idea is tested against something that's bullshit proof. In real life, that's physics - think your parachute overcoat will work and you jump off the eiffel tower and die? Clearly you were wrong.

Roleplayers seem to bullshit themselves that the GM is where push comes to shove - when the GM is human and just as vulnerable to bullshitting himself as anyone else.

But they bullshit themselves that hey, if the dice get rolled and this is called a game after all, their brilliant idea must have faced a bullshit proof test and hey, the GM is saying they get so and so, so wow, it must have been a brilliant idea! In groups all over the world today, parachute overcoats (so to speak) WILL work. Because all those groups are bullshitting themselves that there was any real way it could fail.

So no, I don't have alot of esteem for out of the box answers. I think some bullshitting is good for brainstorming, but is basically incapable of failing (except where you don't bullshit the GM with the type of bullshit he needs to bullshit himself) and if it can't fail, it's hardly worthy of massive praise.

This actually brings design idea to mind...if someone has this 'brilliant' idea they firmly believe would work, the system is they then correlate it to a physical task - ie, they believe it will work as much as, say, them hitting a dart board (at all) at 10 feet (with a dart). Or at whatever range. If they fail at this physical task, so too does the 'brilliant' idea.

The thing with that is that is they have to make a call with their own bullshit - if they think it's really such a good idea, while are they comparing it to hitting a dartboard at 1 foot? Surely if they are capable of such a brilliant idea, they are capable of assuredly hitting the dartboard at a longer range? So goes the actual challenge. We could even correlate the RL range to difficulty - an easy task is 2 feet. It's not such a brilliant sounding idea if the player with the idea then classes it as an easy test.

Anyway, I digress and I know that idea will sound to you like the noise you get when you put a microphone near the speakers it outputs too - just a feedback scream.
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otspiii
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« Reply #69 on: October 04, 2009, 09:44:23 AM »

Not so bad? It sounds like your working from some sort of moral code that encapsulates this?

Kind of?  It's not moral, it's purpose.  The reason that I am running a RPG is for player and personal enjoyment.  If I have reason to believe that something will take away from that enjoyment, then I 'should' not use it.  Words like 'should' or 'bad' or 'good' only have meaning when attached to a purpose or goal, but don't we have one assumed?  I didn't think this needed to be explicitly stated.

I don't think there's a great deal of constructive input from you in saying scrap it and think up something else - basically all your doing is trying to take away from what's already been made, and offering no substitute to replace it.

I gave some earlier in the thread; I really liked the blood and sarcophagus puzzles.  It's a situation where there is risk involved and information must be gathered to make a good decision.  Another example might be a swirling black portal built into a wall that destroys anything placed in it; it's not something that halts the game until it's 'solved', but if people are reckless and don't gather any information on it first (seeing what happens when they shove a stick in it before poking their arm in, etc) it could easily be very dangerous (the portal is actually pretty harsh, and should be kept for a high-mortality game).  A treasure chest hidden behind an enemy too powerful to fight evenly works, too.  The group has to find a way to lure the enemy away, and if it's well designed some (subtle) clues on the enemy's preferences should be discoverable/have already been revealed.

They don't sound impressive, but the uncertainty gives a tension that a puzzle with only 100% right/wrong answers can't.

I'm thinking of starting a new thread on this. Basically a bunch of people who hear an idea and go 'wow, that's great'...means jack shit. In real life it's not ideas that sound great that are great, it's ideas that when applied to physical circumstance, actually work, that are great.

Humans have a massive capacity for bullshitting themselves. The only thing that cuts off bullshitting is when push comes to shove and the idea is tested against something that's bullshit proof. In real life, that's physics - think your parachute overcoat will work and you jump off the eiffel tower and die? Clearly you were wrong.

Roleplayers seem to bullshit themselves that the GM is where push comes to shove - when the GM is human and just as vulnerable to bullshitting himself as anyone else.

So no, I don't have alot of esteem for out of the box answers. I think some bullshitting is good for brainstorming, but is basically incapable of failing (except where you don't bullshit the GM with the type of bullshit he needs to bullshit himself) and if it can't fail, it's hardly worthy of massive praise.

This actually brings design idea to mind...if someone has this 'brilliant' idea they firmly believe would work, the system is they then correlate it to a physical task - ie, they believe it will work as much as, say, them hitting a dart board (at all) at 10 feet (with a dart). Or at whatever range. If they fail at this physical task, so too does the 'brilliant' idea.

Actually, you just answered your own critique pretty well right there.  There are a few things you can do to keep it from just being a 'the GM decides arbitrarily if you succeed or fail' exercise, which would just be an inferior boat puzzle.  The first way I already mentioned, it's by forcing some basic information gathering.  Proper information placement can be tricky, and I can get into it a little if you want, but it opens up into a pretty big topic of its own.  The other way is what you just said. . .kind of.  If the idea they come up with is almost incapable of failing, just say they succeed.  Usually, though, the idea will fall into a more gray area, where it has a chance of succeeding but it's not so certain that the GM should just hand-wave the success into the game.  Darts could work for this, but I think the more traditional method is just to make a skill roll, with difficulty based on how practical the idea is.

Setting the difficulty level is still bullshitting to some degree, but it's a lot less bad if you just remember what you were lecturing me about earlier, that RPGs and reality don't need to match perfectly.  The parachute pants idea you mentioned before is an okay example, depending on how over the top you want the mood of the game to be it could either be automatic failure, an insanely hard roll, or a moderately hard roll; what's important isn't that you're mirroring reality, but that you're mirroring the mood-based decisions you've already made within the game.  Letting the parachute pants succeed in a game all about gritty realism wouldn't work, while not letting it succeed in a game where you already let someone fly by flapping their arms really hard also wouldn't work.  Convincing the GM that your idea is appropriate and has good odds of working is still largely based on bullshitting, but the human brain is really good at taking weird bullshitty ideas and weighting them on a scale from "It'll never work" to "It might work" to "Oh, goddamn it, of course that'll work".  It's not a science, but it's one of the core things the human brain is built to do quickly and (relatively) accurately.

The thing that separates RPGs from other types of games is that it's the only system that uses the human brain as the processor to determine what does or doesn't happen, and if you just dismiss things like estimation of if an idea is feasible or not as 'just bullshitting', then why are you even into RPGs as opposed to any other kind of game?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #70 on: October 04, 2009, 03:45:18 PM »

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Kind of?  It's not moral, it's purpose.  The reason that I am running a RPG is for player and personal enjoyment.  If I have reason to believe that something will take away from that enjoyment, then I 'should' not use it.  Words like 'should' or 'bad' or 'good' only have meaning when attached to a purpose or goal, but don't we have one assumed?  I didn't think this needed to be explicitly stated.
Well, I think it does, since it doesn't seem achievable. There will be something that you enjoy but the players don't (here I'm pretty certain Chronoplasm likes his boat puzzle, otherwise he wouldn't have made it). Water it down and your taking away your own enjoyment (because it's watered down - you would have done that already if you enjoyed it), which you 'should' not do. Don't water it down and your taking away the players enjoyment, which you 'should' not do. Cue an Asimov three laws of robotics type internal conflict!

There are plenty of activities and products in the world which have not been tailored to the people who are the players - they cope in that world, presumably. So I think that goal does need to be explicitly stated.

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and if it's well designed some (subtle) clues on the enemy's preferences should be discoverable/have already been revealed.
I'm still seeing this as taking away what is already a good puzzle, then handballing back the actual vital part of making another one. If it's well designed? Weren't you going to design that? And I'm not sure I even get the black portal as a puzzle - what's to solve?

Maybe it's early in the piece to judge, but so far you haven't provided a substitute and these things you say you should not do have taken away material (if followed). They don't seem productive rules on what one shouldn't do. Again, early in the piece to judge, but I suspect it'll be a trend.

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They don't sound impressive, but the uncertainty gives a tension that a puzzle with only 100% right/wrong answers can't.
I think this is drifting over from challenge and into a 'certain feel'.

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Darts could work for this, but I think the more traditional method is just to make a skill roll, with difficulty based on how practical the idea is.
I think you've missed the key elements/reversals - the player calls the distance/difficulty himself/level of esteem himself, and it's an act of skill on his part to hit with a dart, his own skill, which is supposedly also coming up with a good idea. While no one can have skill at rolling dice and thus they can complain that they and their idea was brilliant and the dice were just against them. Rather than taking in any sense of humility that hey, if they aren't that good at throwing a dart, perhaps they aren't that good at making up a successful idea?

And it doesn't answer my critique - I've just made up another boat puzzle, essentially. I've coupled an imaginative spectrum to a real life life task just as much as the boat puzzle is a real life task. What I've made is rules first - what I critiqued was fiction first. It's not another 'oh, if the fiction seems to call for a dice roll, then we will roll - though if that roll stuffs up the fiction, clearly the fiction is in charge and thus we'll work out some way of ignoring the roll...' fiction first fest.

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what's important isn't that you're mirroring reality, but that you're mirroring the mood-based decisions you've already made within the game.  Letting the parachute pants succeed in a game all about gritty realism wouldn't work, while not letting it succeed in a game where you already let someone fly by flapping their arms really hard also wouldn't work.
And you wonder why I think your talking about simulationism first and foremost? Your almost shouting that the package decides if something is hard or not - rather than someone at the table simply deciding they want to present something that's hard.

Basically anyone diciding something that goes against the 'mood' is athenema to you, right? That's why I call your ideas sim or religion even, because you can't simply decide as your own man to present a hard game, you can only present whatever it is that the mood tells you you are allowed to present. Your a follower of that mood. Ignoring my comments on sim or religion for now, everything I've said is based on deciding what you do as your own man, not as a follower.

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The thing that separates RPGs from other types of games is that it's the only system that uses the human brain as the processor to determine what does or doesn't happen, and if you just dismiss things like estimation of if an idea is feasible or not as 'just bullshitting', then why are you even into RPGs as opposed to any other kind of game?
This is a bit like asking how someone can enjoy wrestling if they don't believe it's real.

Someone on this forum once gave the example of a general from hundreds of years ago who would, outside of battle, present imaginary attacks from various hills or terrain around him, to his collegues. Basically to brainstorm ideas. I don't imagine he thought his solutions would win, because such hubris would probably have killed him off earlier. But instead he worked on solutions in advance of the problem showing up, so he'd have some plans to consider if it ever came up instead of it suddenly happening and coming up a blank. Maybe he'd use none of the stuff he made up, but atleast he'd have more resources to draw on when the real life moment hit. He was preparing for life, he was not sinking (immersing?) into a fantasy. And I'm pretty sure Ron's spione is trying in some way to prepare for real life, as well. But that's nar, of course.

But I'm probably stuck in something similar to trying to describe an enjoyment that comes from not thinking it's real, to someone who does think it's real.
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otspiii
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« Reply #71 on: October 05, 2009, 09:01:49 AM »

Well, I think it does, since it doesn't seem achievable. There will be something that you enjoy but the players don't (here I'm pretty certain Chronoplasm likes his boat puzzle, otherwise he wouldn't have made it). Water it down and your taking away your own enjoyment (because it's watered down - you would have done that already if you enjoyed it), which you 'should' not do. Don't water it down and your taking away the players enjoyment, which you 'should' not do. Cue an Asimov three laws of robotics type internal conflict!

There are plenty of activities and products in the world which have not been tailored to the people who are the players - they cope in that world, presumably. So I think that goal does need to be explicitly stated.

I. . .what?  So, if enjoyment isn't your goal, what is?  I understand that infinite enjoyment for all people involved isn't possible, but that doesn't mean that maximum enjoyment isn't a good goal.  Different people can even have different weights attached to how important the GM enjoyment vs. the average player enjoyment vs. a specific player's enjoyment is, but how could it not be your primary goal in making a game?  Even if it's something like 'improve yourself' I really don't see darts or solving artificial computational puzzles as more useful in everyday life than practicing creative problem solving, even practicing it on artificial problems, and if the game isn't enjoyable people aren't going to play it long enough to improve themselves anyway.

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Maybe it's early in the piece to judge, but so far you haven't provided a substitute and these things you say you should not do have taken away material (if followed). They don't seem productive rules on what one shouldn't do. Again, early in the piece to judge, but I suspect it'll be a trend.

Are you saying that I've given rules on an alternative, but not given any good reason why you shouldn't use the boat puzzle?  Your words tend to the vague sometimes and I don't want to misunderstand you.

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I think this is drifting over from challenge and into a 'certain feel'.

And it doesn't answer my critique - I've just made up another boat puzzle, essentially. I've coupled an imaginative spectrum to a real life life task just as much as the boat puzzle is a real life task. What I've made is rules first - what I critiqued was fiction first. It's not another 'oh, if the fiction seems to call for a dice roll, then we will roll - though if that roll stuffs up the fiction, clearly the fiction is in charge and thus we'll work out some way of ignoring the roll...' fiction first fest.

What?  Where did I ever say anything about ignoring the roll?  It's all about positioning yourself for maximum advantage before the roll, but when the roll happens it happens.  Do you just believe challenge is not possible without a pre-imagined answer?  Just because the GM has to judge the merit of a solution doesn't mean that it's suddenly all holding hands and telling each other how smart we all are.  Judgment calls like that are impossible not to have in an RPG, and if you're not comfortable with that then why are you even roleplaying as opposed to any other sort of game?  Just because a rule is being channeled and interpreted through the GM mind doesn't mean it's not a rule.

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And you wonder why I think your talking about simulationism first and foremost? Your almost shouting that the package decides if something is hard or not - rather than someone at the table simply deciding they want to present something that's hard.

Basically anyone diciding something that goes against the 'mood' is athenema to you, right? That's why I call your ideas sim or religion even, because you can't simply decide as your own man to present a hard game, you can only present whatever it is that the mood tells you you are allowed to present. Your a follower of that mood. Ignoring my comments on sim or religion for now, everything I've said is based on deciding what you do as your own man, not as a follower.

The mood isn't a Sim thing, it's impossible not to have in any form of game, story, art, whatever.  It's the type of challenge in a game, it's the themes and emotional tone of a narrative, it's the way that you feel (or, the way the artist is trying to make you feel, at least) when you experience a piece of art.  How is this so alien to you?  An RPG should have a way that it tries to make the people who play it feel, a mood it wants to give them, and that mood can be absolutely any creative agenda.  If you just go 'oh, challenge is challenge, I'll toss in whatever I feel like as long as it's difficult and if they don't like it's because they're not True Gamists' you're designing with a blindfold and a hammer, using theory as a way to ignore rather than explore reality.

And how the hell does creating a goal for myself and following it make me a follower?  What the hell does that even mean?  I could understand if it was following someone else's lead, but I'm not.  I'm following my own.  Is the only way not to be a follower to just wander blindly?  I have a type of experience I want to provide the players, a certain kind of challenge, and I want to do things primarily that enhance that type of experience.  Yes, I am following that goal, but how the hell does following my own lead make me a religious follower?  If following design goals makes me a package-worshiper, then the definition of 'package' you're using is far too broad to be useful.

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Someone on this forum once gave the example of a general from hundreds of years ago who would, outside of battle, present imaginary attacks from various hills or terrain around him, to his collegues. Basically to brainstorm ideas. I don't imagine he thought his solutions would win, because such hubris would probably have killed him off earlier. But instead he worked on solutions in advance of the problem showing up, so he'd have some plans to consider if it ever came up instead of it suddenly happening and coming up a blank. Maybe he'd use none of the stuff he made up, but atleast he'd have more resources to draw on when the real life moment hit. He was preparing for life, he was not sinking (immersing?) into a fantasy. And I'm pretty sure Ron's spione is trying in some way to prepare for real life, as well. But that's nar, of course.

But I'm probably stuck in something similar to trying to describe an enjoyment that comes from not thinking it's real, to someone who does think it's real.

But. . .that's exactly the type of challenge I'm talking about.  He took an abstract situation with no set answer and tried to determine how likely it was for a certain answer to the situation to lead to success.  It wasn't a puzzle with an absolute correct answer, like what you've been talking about, but a situation that he had to feel his way through based on past experience and his own judgment.  And yes, I agree that that form of problem-solving does a lot more to help you prepare for life than learning how to better throw darts or solve boat puzzles, even if the exact situations you come up with probably won't come up and it would be hubris to assume that your solutions would automatically succeed.

The only difference between what I'm suggesting and what he did was that he would think up 'okay, if I did this how likely would I be to win the battle?' while I'm suggesting that after you assign a likelihood you roll a dice to find out what the actual outcome in the game is.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #72 on: October 05, 2009, 03:59:16 PM »

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Different people can even have different weights attached to how important the GM enjoyment vs. the average player enjoyment vs. a specific player's enjoyment is
Can we wrap up why I brought this up? You've been saying what people 'should' do - given other people have different weights, as you say, perhaps you should (oops, there I go as well) be instead outlining your set of weights and the value you see in that set, rather than saying what they 'should' do. That's what I've been getting at.

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Even if it's something like 'improve yourself' I really don't see darts or solving artificial computational puzzles as more useful in everyday life than practicing creative problem solving
You enquired about my posts and I tried to describe them further. If you don't see it - to try and go any further would involve trying to convince you. And I only set out to describe my posts further.

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Are you saying that I've given rules on an alternative, but not given any good reason why you shouldn't use the boat puzzle?
No, I've said you've dismissed the boat puzzle but offered no replacement.

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What?  Where did I ever say anything about ignoring the roll?  It's all about positioning yourself for maximum advantage before the roll, but when the roll happens it happens.  Do you just believe challenge is not possible without a pre-imagined answer?  Just because the GM has to judge the merit of a solution doesn't mean that it's suddenly all holding hands and telling each other how smart we all are.  Judgment calls like that are impossible not to have in an RPG, and if you're not comfortable with that then why are you even roleplaying as opposed to any other sort of game?  Just because a rule is being channeled and interpreted through the GM mind doesn't mean it's not a rule.
I think here and further down your mostly telling me 'how it is', rather than asking for further information about my posts. I'm just describing my perspective rather than trying to justify how it clashes with your perspective.

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But. . .that's exactly the type of challenge I'm talking about.  He took an abstract situation with no set answer and tried to determine how likely it was for a certain answer to the situation to lead to success.
For the guy I described, no, he didn't decide how likely a certain answer would lead to success. He looked at actions he could take.

This never has a correct answer (until the actual RL moment comes) - it's just making up potential actions. That's why the boat puzzle is part of play, because you can actually win at that.

I made a game based on this years ago - any set of actions described would do, but the more props (provided by a random generator) you included in the solution, the more points you get. The difficulty was in using all the props, while the solution wasn't judged by any other person at all as to whether it'd 'work' or 'be successful'.

To further describe my perspective (without justifying how it might clash with any other perspective), I think judging whether the actions would be successful is rather like Richard Dawkins 'orbiting teapot' criticism. That criticism of imagined assertions being that there's a teapot orbiting the sun, but it's too small to be seen with telescopes. Can you disprove it's there? No. So if you can't prove it doesn't exist, does that prove the teapot does exist? No, of course not. Same with judging whether the parachute jacket would work under a certain 'mood' - can anyone prove it wouldn't work? No...so does that prove it would work? The capacity for groups to be convinced it would work, especially if their prized PC's life is at risk, is amazing - when really it's neither proved nor disproved. It's just in limbo. It's not that the human mind is good at judging abstract situations, it's that the human mind is good at jumping to conclusions where none can be made.
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otspiii
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« Reply #73 on: October 06, 2009, 08:28:27 AM »

Can we wrap up why I brought this up? You've been saying what people 'should' do - given other people have different weights, as you say, perhaps you should (oops, there I go as well) be instead outlining your set of weights and the value you see in that set, rather than saying what they 'should' do. That's what I've been getting at.

And my point was that no matter how you weigh those things, the things I say you 'should' do mostly add to all of them.  The only one they might not with is 'GM happiness', but any GM that's the primary goal for is probably not going to be enjoyable to play with at all.

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You enquired about my posts and I tried to describe them further. If you don't see it - to try and go any further would involve trying to convince you. And I only set out to describe my posts further.

I don't get into discussions not to be convinced.  If I'm arguing styles or opinions with you it's because I think you have an interesting idea and I think that there's a chance that I'll agree with it once it's fully described.  If I press on you and tell you there are things wrong with your assertions it's to make sure I don't get a half-assed explanation.

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No, I've said you've dismissed the boat puzzle but offered no replacement.

What?  I offered the Situation as an alternative to the Puzzle.  My whole point was that things that you need to find the one correct answer to work less well in D&D than situations that have to be understood and used creatively to profit from/avoid damage from.  I even offered examples of what I'm talking about from earlier in the thread: blood, sarcophagus, orb.  Those three are all fairly different, but all are more or less what I'm talking about.

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I think here and further down your mostly telling me 'how it is', rather than asking for further information about my posts. I'm just describing my perspective rather than trying to justify how it clashes with your perspective.

I am attacking your perspective, but it's not to 'educate' you or anything dumb like that.  I just want you to explain yourself, and I'm putting pressure on the weak points of your explanation in hopes that you'll justify them.  The fact that you seem incapable of telling the difference between different types of challenge Gamism, just assuming that if a person likes Gamism they'll like any type of challenge, is one of those weaknesses.  You have already given me a good deal to think about, and I appreciate that, but your last few posts have felt more like evasion and accusation than explanation.  Accusation of accusation.  I am listening to you, I promise.

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For the guy I described, no, he didn't decide how likely a certain answer would lead to success. He looked at actions he could take.

And presumably weighed their expected effectiveness?  He probably didn't assign a numeric ranking system, but if he wasn't on some level judging the effectivenesses of the various actions he could have taken he would have had no reason to do any of this in the first place.

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To further describe my perspective (without justifying how it might clash with any other perspective), I think judging whether the actions would be successful is rather like Richard Dawkins 'orbiting teapot' criticism. That criticism of imagined assertions being that there's a teapot orbiting the sun, but it's too small to be seen with telescopes. Can you disprove it's there? No. So if you can't prove it doesn't exist, does that prove the teapot does exist? No, of course not. Same with judging whether the parachute jacket would work under a certain 'mood' - can anyone prove it wouldn't work? No...so does that prove it would work? The capacity for groups to be convinced it would work, especially if their prized PC's life is at risk, is amazing - when really it's neither proved nor disproved. It's just in limbo. It's not that the human mind is good at judging abstract situations, it's that the human mind is good at jumping to conclusions where none can be made.

That's why you assign a single person to arbitrate all this, the GM, who isn't the owner of any of the 'prized PCs'.  It's not about proof, it's about judgment calls.  Are you uncomfortable with having a person be the arbiter of reality rather than reality itself?  It can certainly be abused and misdone, but common sense, although insufficient for science, usually works just fine for gaming.  If this is something you can't accept, though, this issue goes way beyond puzzles and into the basic concept of what RPGs are.  In any interaction that isn't purely mechanical, there will always be that arbitrary decision that has to be made.  RPGs thrive on those arbitrary decisions, though.  They're what RPGs do better than board, video, and war games.

And besides, you're not deciding if the teapot exists or not, you're deciding on what the odds are that the teapot exists.  Reality is dictated by the dice in cases where there is uncertainty, the GM just gives the odds.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #74 on: October 06, 2009, 01:52:20 PM »

Misha, I think you making multiple assertions which you are certain are true, then your telling me to prove my assertions in light of yours - as if only my assertions could be flawed and they have to fit in with your assertions which are apparently 'true'. I really don't see any nod from you toward the idea that your own assertions could be just as flawed in themselves as you think mine are, all I see is you telling me RPG's are this, or RPG's are that, with a fervor. Have you spent time, even just thirty seconds, trying to think of ways that your assertions are wrong? It's okay if you did but couldn't find any, because atleast that's trying - the thing is, alot of people fall into confirmation bias, where they will form a hypothesis and only ever look for evidence that proves it, and never try to disprove their own hypothesis. How much time have you spent trying to disprove your own assertions?

Also I have no interest in convincing you for it's own sake. I'm interested in developing actual, physical texts (and somehow have come up with two ideas during this thread, which is good) and my discussion has been a means to that end. If your interested in that, I'll continue, otherwise I wont even if you will go on to think that that's somehow admitting you were right all along.
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