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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 26 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Theory] Let's have a good look at Colour, again  (Read 12077 times)
Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


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« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2009, 04:04:09 PM »

Hello Josh

Your assumption is correct: we didn't specifically talk about the sextant becoming central, it happened because of our successive ideas piling up in a particular way (what some would qualify as "naturally"). Saying that we spent time just getting visions to match up is stretching it though. I had my guy manipulate a sextant, and the others suggested some reactions to that, and all the while things were going forward. At some point, the precedents were so rich it just "made sense" to wrap up the episode the way we did.


Hi Fred

Exploration is a subset of Social Contract according to the Big Model. So yes, it is relevant, although I think you're advancing to topics which are already beyond my basic point of just examining how Colour becomes System, Situation, Setting and Character.


Ben, whatever you really ever let transpire in your posts, this is indeed what I was looking forward to reading from you!


Callan: Yes, do open a thread about shit that happens vs system! I'd like to see your idea expressed in some context, because I've never thought of this before.
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Regards,
Christoph
Simon C
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Posts: 510


« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2009, 11:51:11 PM »

So if colour is the stuff in the SIS that hasn't become part of the system yet, what does that mean? What are the implications for design and for play?  Why is it useful to define colour?

What about games where what you narrate is never relevant to the mechanics of the game (i.e. Contenders, and MLWM to some extent)

Does it make a difference whether it becomes relevant to the rules (by which I mean the game text that is used + principled decisions) or to the ad-hoc system?
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Silmenume
Member

Posts: 468


« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2009, 03:15:10 AM »

Hi Christoph,

From my perspective, and that is a Sim one only so take this for whatever its worth, there is no “color” in Sim as “color” is defined here at The Forge. Color is to Sim (maybe all CA's – I have no clue) as Style is to Prose or as Texture is to Music (wikipedia definition – so apologies to real music theorists).  That means everything, every “layer” of the model is under the influence or presence of “color” even the Social Contract layer when “color” could be discussed e.g., “this game is epic heroic” or “this world is dark and cynical.”

The corollary is that if a statement enters the SIS then everything accepted, or at least not contested (nods to the Lumpley Principle), can be drawn upon immediately or in the future as a referent for future play.
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Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay
JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 500

also known as Josh W


« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2009, 04:18:48 AM »

Simon, suppose you make a game about Vampires playing golf, it's just a game about people playing golf, but their vampires.

If you'd done that years ago, you can get a funny overlay of meaning where you talk sort of like businessmen and how they are taking advantage of their companies, unless they are actually talking about their feeding grounds.

If you do it more lately, people will probably go "oh God not more vampires" and maybe even play it as some kind of reference to the clichés of modern vampire fiction.

In that situation colour is important, because it is symbolic and stuff. It's effect on the system is pretty close to non-existent, as you could take out the vampire colour layer and just have businessmen.

In that game the fact that vampirism never appears in any specific technique, doesn't stop you enjoying it when it appears.

Now in MLWM, it generates colour from the rules; like I said before there is colour plugged into the rules, so that they produce a certain style of game. Now this means that the mood of the game goes a certain way, and you stick with the options that are built into the existing system.

Now defining colour positively as symbolic or style based overarching stuff between setting and character, then noticing that symbolism (sometimes wordless in-your-gut type symbolism) appears in system too, is just another way of saying "system matters"; playing a courtly intrigue with D&D 4e, or heroquest, will influence it's style.

So the system can sort of fix what colour is possible, but how? Well some things are fine to sit in the background, but they should also be able to come forward when their time demands it; in that D&D game with the poison, the GM presumably didn't say, "ok you're poisoned, remember that your poisoned" with it having no ongoing effect, the colour just doesn't work if it isn't built into the system.

everything, every “layer” of the model is under the influence or presence of “color” even the Social Contract layer when “color” could be discussed e.g., “this game is epic heroic” or “this world is dark and cynical.”

Jay, your view actually matches up with the big model quite nicely; your creative agenda is all about colour, so everything points to it, system, character etc and it engulfs everything in that it becomes the total point of play. That "arrow" sticking through all the layers is all about colour.

This matches up with the thing I said above; if the integrity of the colour of the game can be damaged by not including it in system, then your choice on that trade-off is immediate; "Well change the system then!"

But others might say that the colour should fall by the wayside if it is not accommodated in the existing system, because of how that can make it incomplete and make prediction impossible purely on the basis of system alone, and may even "break" it from their perspective.

My view is more like a tradeoff of those.

I had my guy manipulate a sextant, and the others suggested some reactions to that, and all the while things were going forward. At some point, the precedents were so rich it just "made sense" to wrap up the episode the way we did.

Ah ok, that's sort of what I meant, but it seems different from another version I've come across, which I'll call Indiana Jones and Chekov's gun:

In that version there is a trap of some kind, or just something pregnant with potential, and people tentatively push towards it, like someone trying to defuse a bomb, but as they do so, they give the GM some space to decide what it actually is, until everyone is clear what something is and what it will do, and the trap goes off, or the action reveals itself. (According to the tropewiki guys this is actually Schroedinger's gun)

But in your version, rather than "what will happen" being the thing that people are lining up, it's more what is happening. The tentativeness there is that you don't suddenly go "the sextant destroys the world!!!!", instead people explore it's significance bit by bit, like people building the common ground for a treaty out of things acceptable to both sides. Interestingly, like the film Donny Darko, the time travel element actually allows you to turn "what is happening" into a satisfying resolution (although yours sounds much more satisfying than that film!). In other words normally when "what is happening" is resolved, it has already happened, and a whole different movement of plot ensues about trying to deal with it, whereas you could mix it almost instantly in, because time travel makes everything easier! I suspect the same effect could be used in a game about Godlike power.

In case the link between that and what I was talking about is not clear, once everyone has got their visions together to some degree, then you can create a common system from that agreement, if everyone interprets the same way and if the colour requires specific forms of change. Freeform between people who know each other well sometimes works this way. In terms of the plot this agreement of colour expresses itself in new dynamics in the situation, and from the hypothetical "point of agreement" onwards new consequences can be drawn from that colour, new system that has supposedly "always been there" but is now taken advantage of directly.
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Silmenume
Member

Posts: 468


« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2009, 05:35:07 AM »

Hi Josh,

Jay, your view actually matches up with the big model quite nicely; your creative agenda is all about colour, so everything points to it, system, character etc and it engulfs everything in that it becomes the total point of play. That "arrow" sticking through all the layers is all about colour.

Actually the definition of color in the Big Model says that color, while possibly interesting, has NO effect on situation.  IOW color is a pretty but does NOT have any substantial effect on game play.  I'm saying the exact opposite - that color suffuses everything including situation. My definition stands in direct opposition to the Big Model. Now whether or not that is of any interest to you - I'll leave up to you to decide!
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Aure Entuluva - Day shall come again.

Jay
Caldis
Member

Posts: 392


« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2009, 06:04:25 AM »


I think you are missing the point Jay.  The Color is hugely important but it only remains color as long as it's not part of the action or resolution of in game events, once it's in it becomes part of system/character/setting/situation.  So color acts on the other elements, influences them and merges with them to create elements colored for this game. It's a lot like paint, when you paint a fence white the fence is still a fence, it still serves the purpose of a fence but now it's a white fence.
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 500

also known as Josh W


« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2009, 06:10:32 AM »

Oh ok, Jay, well provisionally I'd say scrap that part of the big model then! As I've said I think colour is useful for discussion when it means what I've come to understand it as. And in that form, does it match up with your impressions? In other words does my analysis agree with what you see? After all, I can only talk for myself.
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Ben Lehman
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Posts: 2183

Blissed


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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2009, 07:55:23 AM »

Jay, you're confused. You're agreeing with everything while pretending to disagree. You're also bringing in GNS when it really doesn't need to be involved. Color is at the Exploration level, and Creative Agenda isn't the big driver here as much as just creating.

Fred, similarly, I think that talking about it in terms of "good" and "bad" play is pretty restricted by local social contract and creative agenda. I think that color, and what it does, isn't about whether what's done is good or bad, just how it happens. Likewise, I'm not sure I see any color connection in your first point. I mean, was there any description of the food as badly cooked, sitting out for a while, and so on? If not, the food poisoning seems not particularly color connected.

--

Hey, look. Here's where I'm getting my term "ad-hoc system" from. Vincent!

So check this out.

In games where the written mechanics provide a lesser a part of the system, the chunk for decisions is larger. Right? That means that the part for ad-hoc system is larger. Which in turn means that Color becomes more important to the game. This is the sort of thing that I was talking about Polaris being designed to provide for: since there are no mechanics for a character being tough to kill, if you need them, you must provide them via color -> ad hoc system transition.

This has some pretty neat implications to the importance of color wrt pre-written system. The more that your system covers all possible outcomes, and when to use them, the less important color is. Thus it is possible for something like Shock: to become almost entirely a mechanical exercise (despite the generation of a lot of color, it doesn't often matter in the same way that color matters in, say, Amber.) whereas it's not possible in a game less mechanically complete.

(I'm not saying it's possible to play Shock: like chess. It isn't. But it's possible to talk about this as a matter of degree.)

yrs--
--Ben
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Simon C
Member

Posts: 510


« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2009, 10:14:21 AM »

Ben,

Why is it useful to distinguish between colour and setting?

Does colour only matter to ad-hoc system? Why?
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Ben Lehman
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Blissed


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« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2009, 10:54:16 AM »

Simon: My thought (and this is just my thought, at the moment) is that color results in ad-hoc decisions, whereas setting (and character) result in principled decisions.

yrs--
--Ben
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 500

also known as Josh W


« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2009, 12:09:36 PM »

Simon: My thought (and this is just my thought, at the moment) is that color results in ad-hoc decisions, whereas setting (and character) result in principled decisions.

I don't think they need to be distinct in that sense; these distinctions weren't created to answer that question. If I'm not mistaken they were a characterisation of what happens in a moment of roleplaying in a general enough way, even though the character<->setting distinction still reminds me a little strongly of the player GM divide. In actual fact I think it's probably just the classic living/unliving divide applied to the SIS. Although which has more "history" to it?

Warning, language change

Personally I'd rather grab all the "history" and "what is this game world about" and stuff and stick it in a separate category called setting, with situation and character meaning living and unliving stuff that is "within the setting" and is changing together. To put that a bit clearer, you can think of my version of setting being the "potential grab box" for situation and character, not actually existing in the SIS except as limits on what can be introduced.

So you have situation and character effecting one another, and changing in various ways according to the system and sharing similarities according to colour. The setting is in the background, setting what is possible or not possible.

Unfortunately this "rigour" of definitions grabs the word situation, which is a nice helpful word to describe any moment in time. It's a shame because the distinction I want to make is between the background stuff and the setting right now which is what the characters are interacting with, but is not itself a character, which currently use the same word.

This clears up the problem with understanding colour I think, because you can have what is "possible in the setting" (whichever word we end up using for that), and the mood and feel of the thing right now. A setting can be fixed to a specific colour like "always grimdark", or you can have it so that it is capable of varying. This means then that the situation right now might be dark, composed of characters and [situation/now-setting/environment/context/whatever] that share those traits in combination, even though the setting doesn't always need to be this way.

In this way Ben, your gut impression is exactly right, if the setting is the principles/potential of the SIS, and colour applies only to stuff we are sharing and imagining in this specific situation.

I'm sure you get what I'm going for, the question is how to change the language if this is a good way to see it. Or if this is a good way to see it!

For example, do people say "my setting is a world where centaurs from the future have conquered everything" or do they say "the setting for this scene is a trendy bar called war"? Well when talking to them about game design, they generally say the former, or qualify the latter sufficiently for us to be able to understand it.

On the principle of letting people be right as much as possible, I say we should shift "setting" to refer to the former only, if we want to preserve this distinction between the general/historical and the specific/now in our conversation. One nice thing about this is that "setting" could then refer to character backgrounds as well, which is in my experience exactly what happens sometimes; players create character backgrounds, and I weave them together with my own setting stuff to make what we draw on in play, it's all bits of setting that we put together to make the shared setting we play from.
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Christoph Boeckle
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Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


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« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2009, 02:26:07 AM »

Hello everybody

A lot of good things have been said and I need some time to reflect, so I'd like to ask you to hold off from posting until I can sort through your ideas and my thoughts, please. I'll try to be back before Sunday evening (European time).

Cheers!
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Regards,
Christoph
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2009, 10:43:24 AM »

Hello to the newcomers

To all those bringing in their own models! My concern is really only a minor squabble with respect to the bigger picture: either we agree to redefine Colour to take into account the potential it has to be transformed into other elements of Exploration, or we acknowledge this same dynamic as another, acquainted, notion. Nobody seems to contest my basic observation, and I see no reason to re-engineer the whole Big Model from the ground up to take it into account. If any of you insist that we need to go beyond the Big Model or change other aspects of it, I'd like you to take those issues to new topics of their own, please, or at the very least relate it to my actual play snippets in some way, asking questions along the way when necessary.
Josh in particular, I'm not understanding where you're going in your last post and why you need to redefine the other Exploration elements (it seems to me like you're making it more complicated than necessary), most probably because you haven't grounded it in any AP.


Jay, I too believe that you agree with the Big Model, beyond the mere names given to the concepts. Which is to say that I believe that we agree.

Simon, from my point of view, your questions have been answered by Josh and Ben. If you have the feeling you're still struggling to get the point I'm putting forward, it might be best that we have a thorough look at Colour in a thread of your own. I'd participate to my best capabilities. This does not mean that I'm "throwing you out", just trying to develop the discussion to related threads if necessary.

Josh, yes, my preferred mode of decision-making is "in the moment" rather than "what could happen", as your comment reflects. I find it is much more satisfying in the long run, but I understand this is a matter of personal preference. In this case, the time-travel component arose purely from play and, I believe, Colour. A bit after the beginning, we had a scene where one of the characters sees a pot with four varieties of flowers, one supposed to blossom for each of the four seasons (the rules of the game demand that the first scene of each episode be explicitly set in one of the seasons), but all were actually in bloom. This notion of a frozen time was a subtle hint to the problem of the souls that had to be given back to whom they belonged. Some pseudo-physicist talk and overt surrealism impregnating our play all along, so that in the end nobody took it as a far stretch to travel backwards in time (as opposed to merely readjusting the flow of time and see what comes from there).

Ben, your posts bring forward a nice connection. And I think I see how it goes back to Vincent's post. A richer Colour also allows easier material referring to the fiction (also this and that), in some way. My Polaris character flying away was inspired by the end-game rules, in a given situation. The time travel in Prosopopée was a way to bring a solution to the imbalance (this is what playing the game is about) manifested by the four blossoming flowers and the trapped souls of the seafarers.
So maybe another way of describing my initial point is that Colour gives context to rules application (and vice-versa, having some rules will coax out specific decisions from a given Situation).
I'm not quite sure if I'm really doing a new formulation of the same thing, pointing out at related aspects or beginning to realize that I'm mixing together a number of notions that are best left separated, I'll need some more time and discussion for that.


Thanks to everybody for having let me catch up! Feel free to post again.
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Regards,
Christoph
JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 500

also known as Josh W


« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2009, 05:34:10 PM »

Josh in particular, I'm not understanding where you're going in your last post and why you need to redefine the other Exploration elements (it seems to me like you're making it more complicated than necessary), most probably because you haven't grounded it in any AP.

Interesting you should say that, most "definitions" I've seen of the exploration elements is done on a phenomenological basis, trying to see what definitions are the most natural given the differences of how we interact with stuff. In other words I haven't seen Creative Agenda as being integral to the definition of exploration, (in that exploration can be categorised just fine without mentioning it) and it'd be cool to see how that viewpoint works. In terms of necessity, most of that post is one of those foul-ups of language and vocabulary more than anything, as I try to explain the value of separating past history+setting possibilities from the current situation. Basically I think it clears up nicely the difference between the different elements, dodging a lot of sillyness while building in some of the lessons I've learned about situation generation, pre-made setting and the mood of a moment, but clearly I have a long way to go before I've made that case!

I'm happy to scrap it too if I understand something else as better, it's just that at the moment that's where I am. Your explanation of exploration as creation (creative agendanation?) may be able to change that!

The time travel in Prosopopée was a way to bring a solution to the imbalance (this is what playing the game is about) manifested by the four blossoming flowers and the trapped souls of the seafarers.

How lovely, I didn't know how much of that related to the core of the game, nice to see something pointing in that direction.

Almost sounds like someone in your group was pushing the edges of the world a little there; "oh we have to have different seasons do we?", but in a way that went very well. Sometimes I've found this happens because people push the edges only to find the core flow is more fun, or because everyone just shifts with them a bit, I imagine it was the former, with the seasons being strongly reinforced by the end of the game. If so that's probably a good sign for the game design.
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chance.thirteen
Member

Posts: 211


« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2009, 08:01:38 AM »

I am terrible with the specific vocabulary here, but I thought I would take a stab at it:

Color can just be details, or more hopefully, details that reflect the genre and/or the themes of a game. It helps the player get in the right frame of mind.

Color should .... well, color situation and resolution if you can, much like many systems would like resolution to reflect the theme.

For example: in a noir styled (or is that a genre?) game, color might be "garish neon reflected on the rain slicked streets" or "quaint homes with neat little lawns, their human warmth locked behind doors and pulled curtains". This does not address thematic elements for the characters like betrayal, vice, or ambiguity. It does however suggest those themes. It might include some terms to use (like naming a kill class Torpedo, or including a list og cant, slang, or vocabulary). Likewise, to me at least, color is the low end of that "poetic" feel that says a situation feels right, or a resolution is on the right track.

So in specific, as part of a game product, color could be carried in snipets of fiction (some Chandler) , the artwork (some photos or dark illustrations, the layout and graphics (looks like a typed report with old style typwriter font like Smash), as well as a good list of topics, images, news items, trends, terms, etc.,  to throw in as a narrator. You might include advice like if you are going to address isolation, the big city, or the idea of either cynicism or that the characters are tainted by their own choices you could mention those houses with their families locked away as part of an opener, but also return to that image as part of some resolution where it reflects how it is for the characters.

Do that right, and the author(s) has helped carry your mind to their vision of play or possible play, much as suggesting certain guidelines for behavior has also shared a vision of how they wish players to play.

Is that what everyone has been saying?

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