*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
September 01, 2014, 08:25:44 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 33 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Author Topic: [gamist RPGs] Player Driven Games and  (Read 7486 times)
contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2011, 04:58:32 PM »

There is an interesting CRPG that is truly sandbox and has no overall goal, and so its an interesting comparator for this discussion.  Warband (previously Mount & Blade) has no plot of any kind; the nearest that there is to this is that you might try to make yourself king.  The main draw is entirely the gameplay itself, which is unique in several respects - proper mounted combat, developing your own mini-army, the eponymous warband, and fighting battles and sieges featuring large numbers of combatants.  It also has dynamic factions whose fortunes wax and wane.

Now, these features certainly are enough to keep players engaged for a long time.  This is pure challenge for its own sake (and of course the uniqueness value).  But there is ultimately a question that all these games pose, including MMO's, which is, what really is the point of spending all this time making imaginary money?

The quest/pseudo-story structure provides a suitable answer to this almost "existential" question.  It endows action with meaning beyond merely repeating the same actions over again for their own sake.  If those actions are entertaining in themselves, you can do that for a long time, but ultimately there's a certain hollowness to it all. When there is a main quest line, and engagement with the sandox environment becomes a form of preperation for the main event, all that activity is endowed with a greater significance.
Logged

http://www.arrestblair.org/

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2011, 08:34:53 PM »

Quote
The quest/pseudo-story structure provides a suitable answer to this almost "existential" question.  It endows action with meaning beyond merely repeating the same actions over again for their own sake.  If those actions are entertaining in themselves, you can do that for a long time, but ultimately there's a certain hollowness to it all. When there is a main quest line, and engagement with the sandox environment becomes a form of preperation for the main event, all that activity is endowed with a greater significance.

Agreed; most completely open sandbox games do feel hollow after a while. I think you need a goal like you said, and further, the player has to doubt he'll achieve the goal on some level. That makes it a challenge, a mystery, or at least a "let's find out" sort of thing.

I think the major goal in most MMOs and MMO style games is to hit the maximum level and raid the final dungeons. Character empowerment seems to be the drive- ever watch somebody play Diablo 2 for 6 weeks repeatedly killing Bael for the item drops and xp? I've known many who have...

You know what a great model for a sandbox campaign is... a typical dungeon adventure.

You're plopped in the dungeon with or without a goal; if there's no goal then your goal is probably to explore it until you wear out it's mystery and loot potential. You freely wander, make choices, accomplish sub objectives, explore, map things out; interact with some NPCs, plan out attacks... the dungeon adventure is extremely similar to a sandbox campaign if it's built the way I'm used to them- remember old modules from Gygax too? Keep on Borderlands? The dungeons are just location based, no DM forcing you to do this or that at all.

I think that looking into dungeon design a bit deeper might help my sandbox work; or, maybe I should leave the sandbox aspects in the dungeon and use more direction in the overall campaign...- hopefully the former.
Logged

Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2011, 11:11:52 PM »

Nate, I think your avoiding just deciding the objective, like "You must kill diablo himself!", which is easy enough to do.

I think you've shown some interest in what the characters would choose to overall do before, with your example of the character who started building an empire in one of your games. Have you considered whether you like to see how characters act in various situations?
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #33 on: February 17, 2011, 02:21:35 AM »

Quote
Nate, I think your avoiding just deciding the objective, like "You must kill diablo himself!", which is easy enough to do.

Originally, when I envisioned the campaign, the end objective was "kill the evil red dragon from the north and his posse of bad asses." I'd opted out of an end objective though and I think that's no good. If nothing else inspires me that one well works as a functional arbitrary goal- with player-determined sub objectives (I think one wants to become a nobleman).

One of my favorite games, period, is the NES legend of Zelda. I wanted to recreate that a bit but it's tricky.

Quote
I think you've shown some interest in what the characters would choose to overall do before, with your example of the character who started building an empire in one of your games. Have you considered whether you like to see how characters act in various situations?

Absolutely. Recall the bit about the princess who was meant to be fed to the dragon? I didn't know how they'd try to get her, whether they'd kill her, whether they'd team up with lizardmen, whether they'd feed her to the dragon, whether they'd team up with the princess... I like to incorporate gray moral dilemmas too. Give them some really interesting choices to make and no required response.

Are you suggesting a narrativist bent or something?

Quote
Nate, I think your avoiding just deciding the objective

Not entirely: most of my dungeons had objectives like "Kill Skincleaver," or "get out alive," or "plunder the shit out of it before the army returns to properly sack it," or "recover the artifact."
Logged

Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #34 on: February 17, 2011, 01:17:38 PM »

Quote
Are you suggesting a narrativist bent or something?

Well, under a traditional design method, the GM doesn't get to compete against players (ironically great power makes him incapabable of doing that), so you don't really get a gamist thrill if you use the traditional designs. But in terms of narrativist play, that's available and maybe your gravitating toward...what's fun? It's not surprising to gravitate towards that.

In terms of breaking up traditional design and making sequences where you actually compete with the players with limmited power, I think that's entirely possible, but takes some design thought.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2011, 01:48:19 PM »

On a tangent:

In my experience, players like certain things in their games. I can't say this list is comprehensive but I think these are crucial:

The players must be:
Stimulated
Challenged
Important and doing important things
Curious
Badass
Respected and acclaimed
Free

and they must care about what's going on.

This list is in NO WAY exhaustive. Regardless, what does this mean for "sandbox" games?
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #36 on: February 17, 2011, 02:08:56 PM »

Player Importance, Player Driven Games and Shared Authorship

As I said, I think the players have to feel their characters are important or special in some way. Few RPGs are about Joe the mundane who works at a factory his whole life, who retires and spawns a legacy of factory workers who fill middle management positions in various fields, never leaving the town they were born in. They also crucially have to feel that their actions, mission or project is important.

A player can always say that they matter and that their actions are important. For most people though they're less able to convince themselves than others are able to convince them. They doubt themselves- and even if they're self-sure, people are still social animals. We learn socially. Typically we're more sure of something if it's believed by masses of extremely-certain reputable people. Especially if these people are leader figures.

What this means for game design is that player-driven games are inherently tricky- they'll certainly repulse some people. It's like what contracycle says: after a while the actions themselves, the PCs and their activities, take on a degree of hollowness.

As a design issue I think that everyone's right- a game can't normally be entirely player-driven. The DM has to provide some sort of end goal for the campaign- an ending and ways for the players to pursue this end.

This makes sense in a few ways: I'd argue that the DM is absolutely the group's leader, both in terms of rules and in terms of most social contracts. He can create an entire world where certain areas and things have great significance, and he can create a mass of reputable people who will assign acclaim and significance to the PCs and their quests. To build a campaign goal the PCs may see this as a "extremely important, big goal" and it will not only unify the entire campaign but will validate the PCs investment in the game. Success ought also to be doubtful- that way it's a challenge ;)

I'm going to insert a heroic goal, a paragon goal, and an epic goal, and break my game into 3 distinct campaigns merely with the same characters. Thus, the "end goal" of the heroic campaign can be achieved at around level 10 +/-2. I'll decide on the specifics in a day or two- probably a level 15 dragon at level 10 or so.

As to the player-driven aspect of the game- I need to dilute it until it's at a level where the PCs truly thrive on their choices and goals. However, I have a devious workaround as well: I can reward player initiatives and tangents by bestowing the players with more importance from the world. At first their actions might be arbitrary and slightly bored but they cause ripples and gradually get caught up in some important stuff- everything keeps getting more mixed up and dangerous. I'd like to use this approach in parallel to the DM-provided campaign goal method.

I'd love criticism.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #37 on: February 17, 2011, 02:14:40 PM »

I forgot! About shared authorship and man as a social creature.

(btw, I mean "man" as genderless; our language sucks, i'm just defaulting to the male pronoun)

Since importance is most strongly assigned by those outside the player, I was thinking about how shared authorship works. In my games I absolutely encourage my characters to come up with ideas and run with them:

"My grandfather was a duke, a lycanthrope." -the paladin says. I respond by making the princess familiar with him and his family's history- the player just created a branch of nobility in the land that I'll incorporate.

I reserve the final say though- I refuse a lot of ideas too.

What I'm thinking is that, since self-importance is relatively weak, shared authorship may weaken the game in ways. I think the other players can riff off another player's ideas like magic, but to that player he may feel less stimulated than by ideas coming from outside himself.

I'd like to continue to use shared authorship, but I think I'll tone it down a bit. Ironically, denying the players their every wish may increase their enjoyment.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #38 on: February 17, 2011, 02:18:01 PM »

I apologize if this is off topic but I discovered this last night: a remake of the original Legend of Zelda plus custom modules for PC.

http://www.zeldaclassic.com/what.php

The NES version is slightly better- faster projectiles, better controls, slightly harder- but as long as I'm talking about the game so much this way I can show you something awesome.

ahem, sorry.
Logged

contracycle
Member

Posts: 2984


« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2011, 02:32:56 PM »

A lot of more recent games have firmly rejected your model of the GM as the necessary "leader" of the group.  What you are describing is not an automatic or necessary structure, it is just one way or arranging authority wqith the game.

Take for example a game that is still pretty orthodox in methods, like Rune.  In this case the GM is a rotating chair in which players take turns; whats more, when GMing a player gets points for constructing appropriate challanges, and these points can then be plowed back into their character when the hand the GMship on to someone else.  so in the bcase of each adventure, there is still a GM in the form of there being an admionistrator, an opponent of sorts, and a guiding hand, but there is no GM in the sense of a singular influential personality.

The GM is really just another player.  They may have a different set of executive powers, as it were, to those held by the "regular" players; but the various components of what the GM is empowered to do can be split up an distributed among several people.  And the existance of a unifying goal is not actually dependent on the existence of the GM, or indeed the GM's individual and personal inspiration.

Unifying goals can actually be rules-based and programmatic.
Logged

http://www.arrestblair.org/

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci
Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #40 on: February 17, 2011, 07:36:40 PM »

In my experience it's up to the DM to organize the games and ensure participation; lay down ground rules for play; keep things on track, and, well, design the adventures. For me it's been a leadership role. The DMs I know who don't do the organizing quickly lose their players; those who don't keep things on track lose their players to smirnoff; those without ground rules lead to some real chaos. It'd be interesting to play without a GM leader role.

Honestly, in my experience the role of DM is primarily as roleplay group leader. You've shocked me! I wonder what those groups are like! :D

Quote
the existance of a unifying goal is not actually dependent on the existence of the GM, or indeed the GM's individual and personal inspiration.

Unifying goals can actually be rules-based and programmatic.

I'm afraid that's a little vague. Could you clarify and use an example?
Logged

Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #41 on: February 18, 2011, 06:17:44 PM »

Well, it's worth remembering that you have played without a GM already. The zelda example and the other games.

Also I think in those games you can just lead yourself, and you'll do fine. You don't need someone else to lead you.

This might apply to my history as well, but heres a hypothesis: if you take up the leadership position, then players will cease leading themselves.

This is further exacerbated by the fact that traditional RPG designs have shit procedure design - someone can end up doing shit at the table, mechanics wise, no one else previously agreed to (as a contrast, that can't happen in chess - you know everything that can happen, mechanically). The traditional example of this is where some player goes to backstab another player, because the rules don't preclude it. Then the other players bitch about it and this player who was leading himself gives up leading himself, cause he doesn't know when someones going to crack the shits the next time he decides to actually follow his own lead. So he gives up. I've done that - I just sit there, waiting for my cue for what I do get to choose that's just fine with everybody (apparently). If I get a cue at all. Even then I've sometimes been told X worked really hard on it - like I'm supposed to start bouncing around excited about doing nothing and waiting while the other five players pretty much do everything which seems fine to do.

It's a narrativist example, but Ron gave a story once where a player was required to give some sort of background for his character, but kind of tried to shirk it onto the GM and say whatever the GM wants. He'd given up on leading himself (and given the standard RPG culture/texts, as noted above, I can understand that). So the GM politely said no worries, you don't need to turn up to the game.

I know that goes against your idea of "Must retain players at all costs!" - it certainly goes against mine. But apparently the guy calls up the GM latter on, having put alot of effort into that background and started leading himself.

Recently I've been mulling over RPG's that can be played true solo (one person), or with more, simply because A: That's how zelda worked and B: it gets rid of this bullshit. There was even a competition for solitare RPG's on another site recently - I should have entered, but I just crashed on that opportunity.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #42 on: February 19, 2011, 12:20:00 PM »

Quote
Also I think in those games you can just lead yourself, and you'll do fine. You don't need someone else to lead you.

This might apply to my history as well, but heres a hypothesis: if you take up the leadership position, then players will cease leading themselves.

Insofar as we're talking about player-driven games, how do you encourage and create a game where the players effectively lead themselves? I had considered providing zero direction for them and rewarding their exploits while having NPCs give them ridiculous quests that pale in comparison to what they'd do on their own. Zelda did it- it awes me. The player's emergent behavior is to dig in and try to clear the dungeons, probably in order. Neat stuff! How do you create/encourage this stuff?

Remember those old threads about West Marches campaigns? I linked to it below in case you guys are unfamiliar with it. I'd love to be able to run a game similar in ways to this, but it's so hard. How do you get your players into it- and what exactly does the DM do?

http://arsludi.lamemage.com/index.php/94/west-marches-running-your-own/

Next session's tomorrow, adding a major quest and a bunch of minor quests- all optional. I think I'll reward quests with fame instead of gold/gear, saving gear/gold for player-driven activities. It makes sense and includes a reward mechanism for taking the initiative.
Logged

Natespank
Member

Posts: 97

I usually use the male pronoun to mean either sex.


« Reply #43 on: February 19, 2011, 12:21:46 PM »

May I ask what people's experiences with player-mapping is? I've taken a board-game style approach: if they're in a hex, they're in the middle of it and they can travel to the center of another hex in 1 hour. Grossly simplified, but it made player-mapping practical using hexes.

As for in dungeons- I can't imagine how this would be practical, but I'd love to be able to do it. It's another way to put the game in the player's hands, making him responsible for what happens to him.
Logged

Callan S.
Member

Posts: 4268


WWW
« Reply #44 on: February 19, 2011, 02:15:46 PM »

Nate, to genuinely do it, then I think every mechanical action a player takes either takes them mechanically closer to the end, or mechanically closer to the start. Imagine 1000 is the end and you start at zero, and each mechanical action you take increases your number up or down (possibly back to zero). If you think about it, that's how zelda was - every movement got you closer to something, either that gets you nearer to the end, or sets you back/further away from it.

Mollases and murk. What happens in roleplay, I think, and makes people cease leading themselves, is that play ends up just alot of talk. "I go to the tavern" "Okay, you go to the tavern, it's half full". Did going to the tavern get you closer to the final victory? Or did it send you further away? Or are we just talk, talk talking and have ceased to go forward or backward at all? Are we wading through molasses or stumbling blind in murk, not getting toward either direction? Hell, even if we roll dice, did a pass get us closer (or even further away)? In traditional design even dice rolls aren't connected to the win/lose track/even the dice have no traction.

Now to me, that first paragraph is the genuine way to do it. The non genuine way is that players already were self leaders, they talk fiction about what their character 'does' and they think and feel they are getting somewhere. And the GM humours this feeling, unless it gets too big when they aren't that close to the GM's decided end, in which case he swats down their self leading with something, but not too much, don't want to extinguish it. To me, it's pretty illusionist. And I mean illusionist whether you wanted it to be or not. I've run games that way without wanting to be illusionist - and that west marches would fall into this as well, barring it having some overall mechanical spine like in the first paragraph and traveling on it on every single mechanical action the players take.

Even if you wanted to take up the illusionist option, if your players aren't self leaders, you can't. They are disillusioned! They have given up the belief they can decide their own destiny - and rightly so, in an illusionist campaign.

In a genuine win/lose track - it might become apparent to them that their destiny is back in their hands. Maybe. Or maybe they are burned out on the idea forever and just come for social reasons.

And finally, the more you really want the PC's to pursue their own goals, probably the more your drifting toward narrativist inclinations. If it's a gamist game, they are NEVER going to genuinely follow their characters own goals - it is always going to be contaminated with the pursuit of the final win of this real life game. If contaminated PC goals aren't good enough for you, then you'll just have to go full on narrativism. If contaminated PC goals is okay, then I've given my suggestions above :)
Logged

Pages: 1 2 [3] 4
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!