Post-Big-Model RPG theory

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2097

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Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« on: July 17, 2015, 04:25:58 PM »
Vincent, I think I have a pretty good grasp of a lot of it actually. I've read the Dice & Clouds series and the Object series and I believe myself to understand them well enough to not have any questions (although I might be kidding myself). Anything else big beside those two?
+ of course that AW itself is teaching by example, especially illuminated by D&C.

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2015, 05:22:51 PM »
Cool! Have you read this series?

  Color and Currency

-Vincent

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2097

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2015, 05:40:33 PM »
That was one I had missed, will read tomorrow or later tonight!
Thank you Vincent!

-Sandra

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2097

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2015, 06:21:21 PM »
Yeah, it was pretty good. Of the three, my favorite is Dice & Clouds though, because the two other series I already agreed with (but not in the same words of course) while Dice & Clouds was like an all new drink of clarity.
Thank you for these three!

Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2015, 11:15:44 AM »
Vincent,

Are you interested and/or willing to have a "state of the art RPG theory discussion" here? I think it would be fun, but I wouldn't want you to feel pressured into doing it - you do it all the time, in a sense, anyway. But if you're up for it, I'm sure I'm not the only one who has questions!

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2015, 08:52:23 PM »
Sure! Ask away.

-Vincent

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2097

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2015, 04:07:56 AM »
Question number one: it struck me today that in some RPGs the extradiegetical conflicts are orthogonal in a way they aren't in card games.

Like, in the card game Netrunner, the goal of the corporation is to defeat the runner (by either doing their own thing quicker than the runner can disrupt it, or killing the runner). The goal of the runner is to defeat the corporation (by disrupting the corporation enough).
The goals are in direct conflict and the game can be directly adversarial, with great results.

But in some RPGs, the goal of the DM is to portray a fantastic world and make it come alive.
The goal of the players is to have their characters survive the opposition of monsters and problems and rival holds.

The player's conflicts and challenges is on one axis, the DM's conflicts and challenges are on a completely different axis.

Maybe this is what sometimes leads into conflict where the DM views fudging die rolls as OK given that their challenge is to portray the world according to certain parameters, and to struggle with (as well as be helped by) the game system while doing so. While the PCs view fudging die rolls as jamming up their challenge axis which is fighting the kobodls according to completely different parameters.

I know this is 90's shit but I guess I have some missing pieces.

What's your take?

Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2015, 06:25:58 PM »
That kind of thing also happens in other games, like boardgames (e.g. the boardgame Heroquest), sports (referees), and so forth.

Vincent, I'm not going to pile on to this, because Sandra's question is interesting.

It looks like your own thinking on games has broadened a bit from relatively traditional roleplaying games (which is basically all the Big Model claimed to address, as far as I can see) into the concept of "game" in general. Is this part of why you feel the theory should be redesigned? After all, of course we can't very easily apply, for example, GNS theory to something like Spin the Beetle.


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lumpley

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2015, 11:34:47 PM »
2097: With you, sure.

My take is, when you design a game with player interests and duties as complicated as RPGs', it's easy to give a player interests and duties that sometimes contradict each other. For a GM, "it's your job to create challenging encounters" is fine, and "it's your job to make a fantastic world come alive" is fine too, but if your game gives both jobs to the same player, you also have to give them good ways to resolve it when they're incompatible. Fudging dice resolves it perfectly well, as far as it goes, but isn't always the best solution or even a tolerable one.

I have a lot of sympathy for GMs who've signed up for an untenable set of duties. That's a tough spot to be in, and I do my best in my games to give them the tools and the outs they need.

Paul: On the contrary, I think it's easy enough to apply GNS to any RPG you like, including Spin the Beetle. But if you're going to understand a game, you're better off putting GNS out of your mind.

-Vincent

Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 12:27:10 AM »
Paul: On the contrary, I think it's easy enough to apply GNS to any RPG you like, including Spin the Beetle.

Now this is something I'd walk a couple of blocks to see...

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2097

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2015, 04:01:22 AM »
I agree that your games do a good job of not having the two axes (the fun and challenge of the GM role, the fun and challenge of the PC player role) create colliding interests... I was kinda fishing for game design techniques to achieve just that. :)

If I can try to rephrase to see if I understood you correctly:
It's the GM's role to engage with the world-creation and -portrayal and rise up to the challenge of doing so within the system (in the case of AW, the Principles, Agendas, Moves and Fronts). But also to meet the players head on as they engage with their system-role. In the case of AW, portraying NPCs, sometimes hostile.

It's the PC player's role to portray and make choices for their characters and rise up to (and/or be changed by) the fictional opposition (represented both diegetically and mechanically). (In the case of AW, surviving the fronts, scarcities, NPCs, other PCs, and living with all the 7-9 and 6- results). But also to meet the GM/MC head on as they engage with their system-role. In the case of AW, answering questions, filling in the blanks, describing the hold etc.

(Maybe I'm off by a little, I'm not a genius like you guys are.)
But seeing it as extra duties -- and trying to make sure that the duties don't collide, and provide tools to manage the multiple duties, is already a new and valuable perspective for me.
Thank you.

What are some examples of such tools? And design principles for such tools?

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2097

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Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2015, 04:08:32 AM »
That kind of thing also happens in other games, like boardgames (e.g. the boardgame Heroquest)
In HeroQuest, as soon as the same human is designing the little sheet of monster/treasure/trap/door placement is going to participate in the game, you're in trouble.
That's been my experience with that otherwise wonderful design.

BTW Vincent, if you want to get hooked up with Game & Puzzle Design journal, let me know. I'm on the editorial panel even though I'm lazy and don't contribute much there.
That journal is more into stuff like Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays i.e. full combinatorial, open information games. Go, Sudoku, Chess and the like.

Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2015, 06:28:40 AM »
Cool! Have you read this series?
  Color and Currency
Can't believe I had missed this. Cool stuff.

Recently I've been thinking about dice & clouds stuff and I believe that it's a good thing to strive for symmetry. That's what RPGs are all about, right? The symmetry can even go to a point where we try to mesh the dice and the clouds together so that one thing can't exist without the other. Still, it's more of a push-and-pull where different people may lean towards one side or the other while the game may be trying to keep the back and forth going.

Therefore, I feel that there might be another axis in play whereby the game can either be this very interactive thing or it can almost be a kind of solitary puzzle. And I think that a majority of new designs go for the interactive end of the spectrum where you dice the clouds to cloud the dice so that everything is shareable and playable. On the other hand, I feel that a lot of people prefer something on the puzzle side of the spectrum where they can do their symmetry on their own and eventually share some content and play it with the rest of the group.

An example of this puzzle-like approach: let's say I've got this cloud-thing I've been thinking about and that I show just a little bit to you. If the game tells me to ask the question "This happens, so what does your character do?", you might be able to mess directly with my cloud-thing before I'm comfortable with what I've got. If instead I ask something like "What would you like to do?", I can filter your intent through what I've been thinking about for my cloud-thing without messing too much with it.
And this example may be not just about my preference. Maybe you don't know what to say if I ask you what your character does, maybe you don't feel comfortable messing with cloudy stuff right now in front of everybody.

Personally, I'm totally on the super-interactive side of the spectrum, so this is just the vibes I get from different people I play with. I've also asked about this on story-games: Non-traditional RPGs with less interactivity?

What do you think?
@gamerdreamerman

Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2015, 06:42:39 AM »
Maybe I can be a little more clear:

On one end of the spectrum, mostly everybody goes left and everybody goes right. Together. I can tell you about my cloud-thing, ask a question about yours and you come back to me on the same side.

On the other end of the spectrum, players spread themselves left and right thinking about their own thing. I can tell you about my cloud-thing, ask what you want to do and you come back to me from the other side saying that you do this dice-thing.
@gamerdreamerman

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lumpley

  • 1293
Re: Post-Big-Model RPG theory
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2015, 05:17:30 PM »
<b>2097:</b>
What are some examples of such tools? And design principles for such tools?

Excellent, excellent question!

I think that it's always important to hold the conversation at the center of your design's attention. For instance, in Apocalypse World, it's the MC's duty to both make the world seem real and make the characters' lives interesting, right? A charged situation is a time when those two duties touch, when they might come into conflict. The game stands on the conversation, though, not on abstract decision-making, and provides reading a situation for just that moment. It shifts a piece of the combined duty - the duty to decide which details are important - over to the players.

Argh! I feel like I'm stumbling here. Am I making sense to you?