thread: 2011-01-25 : Social Context and Design Scales

On 2011-01-31, Josh W wrote:

Vincent, you want to move from the previous theory discussions to more focused discussion on design right? I agree with that intention to some extent, but I wonder if that motive is coming out in your depiction of design; I don't think that an actual process of design just goes "existing rpg theory"->design.

Personally, I've had three insights for a bit, and reading your post about "things that had no relevence" and testing it out, I found a way that using the rpga threefold idea could maybe make my game better. Time will tell whether it was a red herring, but I wouldn't discount that stuff by default.

Ok on what you were actually talking about, the barriers thing is good up to a point, because strategic goals "What I as a player am aiming towards over the next few games" and the game's native narrative structure "what I as game designer want the players to tend towards doing over a few games" can be very different things.

The first is about barriers, getting in player's way in a way that gets them to engage with something, the second is about build-up; references across sessions, and getting players to recognise stuff and it's changes.

People don't have to have "game-to-game goals that the game blocks" for this to happen.

Persistence of objects is sort of assumed as default, but really isn't for games by people with chaotic lives; you need to write down that town if people are going back there, write down elements of that character if someone is going to keep her in his mind semi-consistently (which is needed for change, otherwise they'll keep defaulting to recreating the same first impressions of the character that came to mind, like groundhog day).

Groundhog repetition can be interesting in it's own way, as players going at the same circumstance (especially with a random element) will usually be able to play it differently each time, depending on how rigid the game is:

It can have it's own "what are we doing" thing, like
"we're trying to find a way to turn a no win situation into a win",
"we're each trying to beat the person who beat us last week in a way that is not cheap, so we can gloat over the intervening week",
"we're trying to get better at potraying this in a way we feel is authentic",
"we're trying to find a way to square our enjoyment of this with rejecting it's dodgy bits",
or "we're just releasing stress and chilling together with our standard activity".

Of course, all of those probably require memory to work properly, but the kind of memory required is the sort of thing I'm talking about.

One simple form of persistance to illustrate it; you have a game with random elements, and when you come to an entry on a random table at least two players remember playing before, you reroll. This system is about producing shared experiences between the players and finding ways to make certain ideas distinctive, amongst whatever else it's doing.


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