What is "The Forge?" - Page 32
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  1. #311
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    I'm terrible at nesting lots of quotes within a single post, so I'm going to try to answer a variety of comments without quoting. If I mess anything up, well, you can yell at me.

    Fusangite: I find your ideas interesting and compelling, and would like to sign up for your newsletter. I really like breaking down player actions into player expectations, and looking at what drives/shapes those expectations. Interesting stuff.

    Eyebeams: Two points, and they tie together.

    RPGs as broad and flexible, as opposed to narrow and focused.

    I think this one is a value judgement, or a dial that a designer can tune to fit his tastes. I happen to like broad, adaptable games. The best Mage game I ever played was one set in the Renaissance with background ripped wholesale from Ars Magica, run years before the Sorcerer's Crusade was released. One of the best D&D adventures I ran used mass combat rules and rules for siege warfare. Another one was almost pure roleplay and tactical planning that didn't involve the rules beyond a few Craft checks.

    OTOH, when I think back to the sessions of Feng Shui and Dying Earth that I've played and ran, I'm always struck at the rules we used, and the ones we ignore. In Feng Shui, everyone wants to use the stunt rules to do cool and whacky things. The initiative system, the damage system, even the special kung fu maneuvers, most of these never came up in play. Dying Earth is similar: half-way through the first session, we were using the social interaction rules in every scene, but every other rule in the game had been dropped for a much simpler roll d6s and beat a target number system that I created on the fly.

    "Gamers are bad at gaming."

    I'd reverse this one: game companies are bad at telling gamers how to use their games, and I think this ties into the broad v. narrow rules debate. When a game tries to do everything, it lacks focus and makes it much harder for players and GMs to figure out what to do with it. A strong, well-supported core story can really help this, but few games clearer and repeatedly communicate their core stories.

    Even worse, mainstream games in the 1990s were very, very bad at giving people realistic expectations of what an RPG can be. TSR in particular did a good job of telling people that the D&D they wanted to play was Bad Wrong Fun.

    I have in my lap a copy of DMGR 1, the first DM-centric sourcebook for AD&D 2. This book has become an icon of sorts to me. It's the poster child for breeding bad DMs, unhappy players, and frustrated gaming groups. I think that a sizable portion, though not anywhere near a majority, of AD&D players suffered because of this book's unrealistic take on what makes D&D fun. Here's some quotes:

    On "hack-and-slash" gaming:
    "At first, most players love the thrill of battle. But all fighting eventually degenerates into boredom."

    On the "righteous roleplayer" player type:
    "This should be the preferred playing style, and is usually incorporated with other styles since it is essential that a fair amount of role-play place in order to create a believable game."

    There's a very clear message here, and it's repeated throughout the text: using the rules is bad. Fighting monsters is bad. Spending an hour roleplaying the process of renting a room at an inn is good. Running a game where the PCs are spectators to your grand story is good.

    These are obviously, as best, judgement calls that vary from group to group. Yet, they're presented as gospel. You play D&D to adopt a character and roleplay him out, while avoiding the rules and icky combat as much as possible. That not only isn't useful, it sets people up for disappointment. If you read this book back in 1991 and were convinced it was right, you had maybe a 5% chance of finding a group that would actually live up to what you were told is an acceptable gaming experience.

    I think that, throughout the 1990s, this was a common mistake in RPG publishing. The industry as a whole was so intent on out-Vampiring Vampire that customers were either given unreasonable expectations of what to expect from a game, or they were told that the style of game they wanted was worthless. No wonder so many people (myself included) stuck with 1e.

    Stuff like Robin Laws's work is a good first step, but there's still lots more that needs to be done. Stuff like the Fantastic Locations maps show us that D&D is more fun when battles take place in larger, more open areas with lots of options for movement and tactics. It took the gaming world 5 years to figure that out! That "innovation" has been hiding in the rules for all that time, yet if you look at adventures from WotC and d20 companies, you see room after room drawn in the 20 x 20 foot, 2e, non-tactical style.

    All of this ties into why I find parts of Ron's theories interesting and useful, and why the Forge is good. Even if you don't fully understand what GNS is, you can think, "I want my design to emphasize this "gamist" style of play that seems to match what I want to do. How do I communicate that to the end user?"

    As an aside, "teaching" players and GMs how to run a good Iron Heroes game played a big part of the design. All of the classes are good at fighting, and all the classes were fighting styles, rather than game roles or setting elements. It's almost impossible to build a PC who is useless in a fight - you have to try rather hard to do so.

    This turned off people who didn't want to play a game with lots of crazy battles, but that to me was a good thing. Such people would not have been happy with Iron Heroes! There was no point in trying to sell them on the game.

  2. #312
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside
    I'm going to disagree with you here and say that yes, while the aboutness of things can certainly be multidirectional, no, it doesn't have to be. A good example would be certain kinds of allegory.
    Like what? For example...

    The thing is, though, even if you're somehow right about these specialized types of allegories, "gaming" is not an allegory. It is a term that refers to an activity or set thereof.

    You're failing, here, to apply the most basic semiotics. Gaming is always about gaming. It just is. No amount of high-fallutin' nonsense and Forge-speak will make it not so. And, by the way, I think Ron, Chris and everybody else I've corresponded with down at the Forge would agree with me here. Gaming is always about gaming.

    But rather than just repeat myself, I'm going to asak you to furnish me with an example of a time when gaming isn't about gaming.

    Why don't you operationalize what you're asserting and we can see if it is really capable of passing muster intellectually.
    Look at it this way: in order to say that someone is doing something wrong, you have already to have a set of beliefs about a number of things.
    And, being human, I manage to do that.
    The most important of these is that you have to believe that they're trying to do right what you believe they're doing wrong in the first place,
    Nope. Some people deliberately choose to do something wrong.
    Here the wrongness is determined by the immediate context of the race and its participants, and not by any transhistorical notion of "drag yourself somewhere with your lips" wrongness.
    Look, I'm an historian by trade. And I'm big on the context. But this is just ridiculous.

    Sorry, but not everything is a social construction. Walking is not a social construction. Giving birth, getting pregnant, not social constructions either.

    [Faith Statement]Reality, as we experience it, simply, is not purely socially contingent. It arises from a dialectic between socially constructed realities and the actual physical world.[/Faith Statement]

  3. #313
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Awkward
    Who's proposing empty rewards? I seriously have lost track. Anyway, when you "present them with an experience that makes them want to come back," you are causing them to enjoy the game. If they come back, it's because they enjoyed the first experience and are looking for more enjoyment. Of course, this is just a truism. If they happen to enjoy watching their characters get phat loot, it's the same as if they happen to enjoy a deep roleplaying experience. They could be capable of enjoying both, but latch onto whichever happens to be handy at the time.

    My thesis here, such as it is, is that the reason people game is simply and concisely that it pleases them to do so. Someone might start gaming thinking that it will please them, and find out that it doesn't, but they won't keep at it for long if they're not getting some kind of enjoyment out of it, much in the same way that most people don't slam their fingers in a door and say to themselves, "yow! That sucked! I guess I'll try it again and see if it gets any better."



    Yup. So long as you enjoy the experience of trying to succeed and failing, you'll enjoy a game that gives it to you. You'll come back for more and enjoy challenges that you might or might not overcome.
    The question now becomes, how do you do it?

    Has anybody seen an RPG that provides guidelines for getting the players involved?

  4. #314
    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Leming
    The essays in the articles section are fairly easy to read. Those didnt contain anything about The Big Theory though. Would somebody be so kind as to point me towards that or at least a summary of how it differs from GNS?
    Believe it or not, I've been waiting to post this all thread (and when I started reading, this was seven pages with 50 posts per page, so!).

    http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=232712

    Vincent Lumpley explains it in a way which makes genuine sense to me. It may not be Edwardsian Big Model theory, but it's at least Edwardsian-Lumpleyan Big Model theory.

    (In the future, there will be a nation of gamers who keep Vincent Lumpley's body preserved under glasss . . .)
    Last edited by mhacdebhandia; Monday, 19th December, 2005 at 07:20 AM.

  5. #315
    Quote Originally Posted by evileeyore
    I think this statement and attitude is the crux of the problem.

    As far as I'm concerned we are still gaming the same way we were in 1970. We gather with like-minded people and play games that we enjoy. Just as we did in 1970. We just play different games.

    If your doing anything else... you aren't gaming.
    And if you want to give the argument up and say I'm just not gaming, more power to you. Obviously, that doesn't affect me in the least. But from the point of view of this argument, the idea of gaming is being theorized in much more complex terms than "like-minded people gathering to play games they enjoy." Much, much more complex terms. So, I don't think I'm wrong in saying that if someone had come along and devised a complex theory of gaming in 1970 the way they're trying to do now, it probably wouldn't have been able to account for what Vampire players were doing in the 1990s. By extension, I fully believe that any theory these people come up with today is only going to be provisional, because the variety of things gamers do in their games is only going to continue to increase as the decades go by. And if it happens that these people become intoxicated with the elegance of their own ideas (or the perceived elegance, at any rate), and continue to adhere to them long after they've outlived their usefulness, well, then you probably get something that looks a bit like this thread.

  6. #316
    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    Like what? For example...

    The thing is, though, even if you're somehow right about these specialized types of allegories, "gaming" is not an allegory. It is a term that refers to an activity or set thereof.

    You're failing, here, to apply the most basic semiotics. Gaming is always about gaming. It just is. No amount of high-fallutin' nonsense and Forge-speak will make it not so. And, by the way, I think Ron, Chris and everybody else I've corresponded with down at the Forge would agree with me here. Gaming is always about gaming.
    What Forge-speak? I've been to The Forge once, based on a ten-second google search/ctrl-F to get that link for WayneLigon. That's the extent of my contact with this place.

    I think there's a turn in my argument that just isn't making it through. Let's say you think gaming = GNS. I know you don't think that's true, but the "you" here is in a more general sense. What I'm saying is that my specific game doesn't have to be about anyone's overarching concept of gaming, whether it's yours or The Forge's, ever. You can theorize and theorize and theorize, and someone can still come along and do something new that busts the theory of gaming but still is gaming. I'm not saying you can go to a movie without it being about going to a movie, I'm saying you can to go to a movie without it being about "going to a movie." Just like I can play a game that isn't about "gaming."

    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    But rather than just repeat myself, I'm going to asak you to furnish me with an example of a time when gaming isn't about gaming.

    Why don't you operationalize what you're asserting and we can see if it is really capable of passing muster intellectually.And, being human, I manage to do that.
    You can do it for me. Do you believe that any existing theory of gaming is so precise as to cover everything you do at the table? I imagine not. And do you believe it's possible to formulate a theory of gaming that this would be true for, not only for you but for everyone who will ever game? I hope not.

    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    Nope. Some people deliberately choose to do something wrong.
    Which is trivially parasitic on what I just said, when it works; but your case is not universal. Say "it's cold in here" and mean "it's warm in here." You can mis-utter but you can't mis-mean.

    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    Look, I'm an historian by trade. And I'm big on the context. But this is just ridiculous.

    Sorry, but not everything is a social construction. Walking is not a social construction. Giving birth, getting pregnant, not social constructions either.
    Is there a point continuing this? It feels like you're stuck on the fact that I used a term for contemporary intellectual trends that you don't like, and you've decided to just not invest anything in the exchange. I never said walking was a social construction, or giving birth, or getting pregnant. I said you can't walk wrong, give birth wrong, get pregnant wrong, if you aren't trying to do any of those things in the first place. You aren't walking wrong by running, or sitting at your desk, or swimming; you aren't getting pregnant wrong by having other kinds of sex that can't get you pregnant. If I write a poem, you can't say "you wrote that book wrong." I wasn't writing a book, I was writing a poem.

    At the same time, to pretend we don't have culturally constructed concepts associated with walking ("going for a walk," "power walking," etc.), giving birth (natural birth, Cesarian by appointment, etc.) and so on is silly.

    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    [Faith Statement]Reality, as we experience it, simply, is not purely socially contingent. It arises from a dialectic between socially constructed realities and the actual physical world.[/Faith Statement]
    Yes, it does, and I never said otherwise. You may think, based on some words I've used, that I'm part of some totally alien intellectual trend, but in fact hermeneutics, which is where this insight originates, and ordinary language philosophy, which reiterates it, are my primary areas. I'm just not prejudiced against other forms of thought.

  7. #317
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside
    And if you want to give the argument up and say I'm just not gaming, more power to you. Obviously, that doesn't affect me in the least. But from the point of view of this argument, the idea of gaming is being theorized in much more complex terms than "like-minded people gathering to play games they enjoy." Much, much more complex terms. So, I don't think I'm wrong in saying that if someone had come along and devised a complex theory of gaming in 1970 the way they're trying to do now, it probably wouldn't have been able to account for what Vampire players were doing in the 1990s. By extension, I fully believe that any theory these people come up with today is only going to be provisional, because the variety of things gamers do in their games is only going to continue to increase as the decades go by. And if it happens that these people become intoxicated with the elegance of their own ideas (or the perceived elegance, at any rate), and continue to adhere to them long after they've outlived their usefulness, well, then you probably get something that looks a bit like this thread.
    So did anyone else get, "the people here are just intoxicated with the perceived elegance of their outdated ideas," from the above or is that just me?


    joe b.
    Last edited by jgbrowning; Monday, 19th December, 2005 at 08:32 AM.

  8. #318
    Quote Originally Posted by jgbrowning
    So did anyone else get, "the people here are just intoxicated with the perceived elegance of their outdated ideas," from the above or is that just me?
    "These people" being the people at The Forge, who are apparently entirely dismissive of points of view that challenge their own. I'm basing this judgment off of anecdotal evidence from TB, fusangite and others.

    My point is simply that grand metanarratives about gaming are useless. They don't have much to do with designing games, as eyebeams says, and they certainly don't have much to do with playing them.

    Local narratives? Definitely. Larger trends with underlying causes we can discover and talk about and maybe even use to our advantage as designers (well, I don't design games, but you get the drift), maybe even take a part in shaping? Definitely. But trying to be the Czar of what is and is not gaming, trying to legislate everybody else's fun, or utility, or engagement, or whatever you want to call it? Meh.

    edit: let me rephrase. I find Forge-type speculation interesting on a fundamental, broadly aesthetic level in terms of thinking on what gaming might really be "about," even though I completely agree with eyebeams that you can't just sit up on that mountain surveying the kingdom after you get there (you have to come back down and reevaluate the overview in terms of the points of view of the people on the ground actually doing stuff). Still, I'd find it quite a bit more interesting to hear someone theorize the contexts that produced a place like The Forge and its theories, led to its marginal successes among other internet theorist types, its conflicts with others, and so on.
    Last edited by Wayside; Monday, 19th December, 2005 at 09:58 AM.

  9. #319
    One thing I recall Lumpley saying, very firmly, in the thread I linked earlier, is that the Big Model doesn't describe players, or game systems, it describes games (in the sense of "campaigns" or "chronicles"), and it can only really do so in hindsight by applying the model to find out exactly what kind of play you were actually engaged in moment-to-moment.

    Which is a very different thing from GDS/GNS and so on.

  10. #320
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside
    I'm going to disagree with you here and say that yes, while the aboutness of things can certainly be multidirectional, no, it doesn't have to be. A good example would be certain kinds of allegory.
    Quote Originally Posted by fusangite
    But rather than just repeat myself, I'm going to asak you to furnish me with an example of a time when gaming isn't about gaming.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside
    You can do it for me.
    So, basically, you're saying that you can't actually support your own argument. Why would I do it for you? You say gaming doesn't have to be about gaming. I say it does. You insist that it doesn't. I ask you to furnish an example of how it doesn't... and you refuse and ask me to instead. I think we're done here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayside
    I'm not saying you can go to a movie without it being about going to a movie, I'm saying you can to go to a movie without it being about "going to a movie." Just like I can play a game that isn't about "gaming."
    I don't know what these quotation marks are doing for you. But I'll tell you what they're doing for me: they're telling me we're definitely done here.

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