Don't Lose The Forest For The Trees - Page 2
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  1. #11
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    Seems somewhat unnecessary splitting of hairs though. If your definition of games excludes most of what people would call games, then I'm thinking that the definition is pretty flawed. And, it seems like a rather convenient definition as well, based on personal preference (RPG's are games, but, these other activities, that I don't really like, aren't games, they're puzzles. )

    I'm not getting this point:

    In games, especially games for more than two, there is no best move (frequently)
    I've gambled more that I care to admit, and I'm going to tell you that there are moves that are better than other moves. "Best" is a bit hard to quantify since it's rare that you have enough information to ever have a "best" move.

    To put it another way. Any definition of game that excludes chess and go is a poor definition that is only going to confuse the heck out of people.

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Seems somewhat unnecessary splitting of hairs though. If your definition of games excludes most of what people would call games, then I'm thinking that the definition is pretty flawed. And, it seems like a rather convenient definition as well, based on personal preference (RPG's are games, but, these other activities, that I don't really like, aren't games, they're puzzles. )
    Actually I thought Lewpuls called an RPG a puzzle, so it's not his preference necessarily.


    I've gambled more that I care to admit, and I'm going to tell you that there are moves that are better than other moves. "Best" is a bit hard to quantify since it's rare that you have enough information to ever have a "best" move.
    This is an important point. Game vs. puzzle relies on state of information and computational resources, so the definition gets rather blurry. From a game theory standpoint, in many situations there is a best move (called a "best response") although one often doesn't know what it is in a real situation. With enough computational power, chess is indeed a puzzle, because we know that there actually is an optimal play. It's still a game from the human perspective because human players (and for the moment computer players, too). Tic-tac-toe illustrates this. Except for three year olds, it is a not much of a game. With rational players, it always goes to a draw. Rochambeau (as opposed to Cartman's manifestly unfair version) is a game because of imperfect players; with optimal players it's just randomness.

    I will say this, though: I did feel that "puzzle" clarified to me what an RPG is, but...

    To put it another way. Any definition of game that excludes chess and go is a poor definition that is only going to confuse the heck out of people.
    I agree about the fact that this language parsing is overkill.
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  3. #13
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    "In his Philosophical Investigations,[4] Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what games are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term game to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances."


    Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game

    People are very sloppy when they use the word "game". For some, it's more or less synonymous with "play". But such broad words become virtually useless. So I try for more specific definitions, and that means some things people call games are actually puzzles.

  4. #14
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    Excuse me for being a bit slow here, but, I'm not catching the point. If we use narrower definitions and say X is a game and Y is a puzzle, well, so what? What's the purpose of the narrower definitions?

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by lewpuls View Post
    "In his Philosophical Investigations,[4] Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what games are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term game to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances."
    Ah, good old Ludwig... such as boozy swine. At least he was just as shloshed as Schlegel.

    And indeed, "game" is really a family resemblance.


    People are very sloppy when they use the word "game". For some, it's more or less synonymous with "play". But such broad words become virtually useless. So I try for more specific definitions, and that means some things people call games are actually puzzles.
    The problem is when those definitions are deemed correct and most people don't know the context of the technical language. I work as a statistician. Lots of terms in statistics have OL meanings that mean one thing and in statistics they mean another. This really messes up casual users. A good example is the word "bias". I mean, who'd want a "biased estimator"? Nobody wants to be accused of being biased! Well the reality is that most of the time the answer is everybody because in most problems a little bit of bias drastically improves the estimate.

    Technical language is both powerful and dangerous, which means users of it really need to alert readers to the fact that it's being used in the technical and inevitably more restricted sense.
    Last edited by Jay Verkuilen; Sunday, 21st January, 2018 at 05:14 PM.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Excuse me for being a bit slow here, but, I'm not catching the point. If we use narrower definitions and say X is a game and Y is a puzzle, well, so what? What's the purpose of the narrower definitions?
    Narrower definitions are more specific and thus it's possible to talk about comparing things like a single player campaign video game vs. online play intelligently without longwinded, reaching constructions. A single player campaign isn't a "versus" whereas most online play is "versus". Thus if you define a "game" to require "versus" competition, most TTRPGs are not games, just as single player campaigns are not. So that's an example.

    The problem is that technical language is dangerous when many readers don't know that it's being used, e.g., when the citation to it is a several year old book as opposed to, say, a Wikipedia citation, or no citation at all. Then it sheds more confusion.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Verkuilen View Post
    Rochambeau[/URL] (as opposed to Cartman's manifestly unfair version) is a game because of imperfect players; with optimal players it's just randomness.

    I will say this, though: I did feel that "puzzle" clarified to me what an RPG is, but...
    XP for bringing Cartman into this.

    Quote Originally Posted by lewpuls View Post
    Moreover, role-playing is the genre of games least amenable to being made into puzzles.

    The designer always has to ask himself (or herself), "what am I trying to show in my game?" The question isn't as important for an adventure designer, but still worth asking. This not only applies to game design but also to many creative activities.
    I was, unfortunately, asking myself "what is Lewpuls trying to show in his article?" My best answer is, "don't lose the theme or vision of your game while designing the parts." Sound advice. But in keeping with the course of the discussion...

    What is an RPG then, if it is composed of several puzzles, as well as game elements? Game, puzzle, or maybe just something that defies alternate classification?

    Complicating nonsense:
    Spoiler:
    In another thread I ask the question: what makes an RPG different from improvisational acting (improv)? Improv is required in an RPG, but some people's RPGs look more like improv than a game.
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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I'm not getting this point:

    In games, especially games for more than two, there is no best move (frequently)
    <snip>

    Any definition of game that excludes chess and go is a poor definition that is only going to confuse the heck out of people.
    In @lewpuls's terminology, chess and go are puzzles because there is a solution (though it's cognitively/mathematically in accessible to most players).

    I assume that backgammon is a puzzle for the same reason, although its parameters can change from move to move because of the dice results.

    Maybe I'm wrong, but I would assume that Diplomacy is a game in the relevant sense. And I guess many other blind declaration wargames (inlcuding CCGs) might count.

    As to the bigger issue of "why bother"? I assume that this sort of analysis is helpful to game design. (Also - as something of an expert on Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, I can confidently state that his discussion of the word "game" has no bearing on the current topic of games vs puzzles, except in the trivial sense that he is pointing out that words can have varied uses. But making that rather banal point is not what makes the book an important work of philosophy; and the philsophical points have no bearing upon game design.)
    Last edited by pemerton; Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018 at 04:13 AM.
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  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    what makes an RPG different from improvisational acting (improv)?
    RPGs typically have rules allocating responsibility for establishing different elements of the shared fiction - the most important being responsibility for establishing situations, and responsibility for declaring actions on the part of the principal characters. These rules can be formal (eg Burning WHeel, Fate), or presented informally (eg the 4e PHB has a list of the jobs of the GM), or implicit in the way the game is presented (many "traditional" RPGs tend to gloss over this aspect of the game, or take it for granted).

    RPGs also often have rules for determining if, and how, a player's declared action for his/her PC changes the established situation - these are action resolution mechanics. (I say often - there is an important trend in RPGing which takes the view that one participant - the GM - is in charge both of establishing situations, and determining whether or not declared actions change those situations, with the outputs of action resolution procedures being, at best, one factor that the GM might consider in making such a determination. 2nd ed AD&D is one high watermark of this trend.)

    These are two important differences from improv acting that go to the structure of play. There are other differences, too, that go more to the ephemera - eg improv acting is more likely than (tabletop) RPGing to use actual space, props etc as components in establishing the shared fiction, whereas RPGing is more likely to depend on narration and (perhaps) illustrations.
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  10. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by DMMike View Post
    XP for bringing Cartman into this.
    Cartman is almost always relevant, somehow.

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