Design Effort Vs Predictable results: One solution

I had this nifty idea. It helps with a certain writers block I get, which is more an effort to reward imbalance block. The block comes from thinking of writing up the code for a combat between a PC and a monster and the imbalance of that effort relative to the reward, as I can see the percentages and know exactly how it’ll turn out, barring¬†exceptionally random results.

But this idea I had is nifty. I actually kind of thought of it a few years ago when I first played WOW. It goes like this:

  1. Monsters have a percentage chance, perhaps around 20%, of being ‘potentially highly dangerous’. They show up with a red aura or whatever.
  2. BUT this doesn’t mean they are, it merely means they have the potential.
  3. Once you go into combat with them, they have a percentage, perhaps around 5%, of being a considerably more dangerous version of the creature. Perhaps what one might call an imbalanced version relative to the PC.
  4. If that roll doesn’t come off, they are just regular! Few! Thank goodness!
  5. So you’ve got it so far? Monsters can sometimes appear as more dangerous, and sometimes they actually would indeed kill you! But, you say, this is just playing an odds game – you could work out the percentage of death and avoid all that coding by just rolling it to begin with!
  6. Okay, here’s the nifty bit. The player can press a key or has an item and it, if they use it prior to starting combat, it turns these guys to regular monsters. No aura. No chance of being lethal.
  7. And the second nifty part is that the game records how often you use this instead of facing off with the monster. If you never use it, you get some sort of award at the end of the game, much the same as in nethack when you fulfil the requirements of a conduct. If you use it a few times/X amount of times, you might get some other award. If you always use it, no award, but you don’t face arbitrary death if your not up to facing that.
  8. That bits important, because just as much as there can be too much work for a predictable win result, there can be too much work for a predictable (eventual, as the odds will come up) lose result. In play it’s not a predictable result, as much as you want that award and current circumstances influence your choice on the matter. ūüôā

I’m really quite pleased with it. I feel a lot of weight come off me, in terms of coding stuff. Though I guess I’m not doing it right now – but now it’s a fun thing to do, so it’s quite easy to get the whim to do it. And I can feel that whim building up ūüôā

Between oblivion and susceptiblity

There’s this curious position. One of the things I’ve encountered a lot is people, when designing or prepping, bring a lot of prior assumptions with them when doing so. It’s ‘how things are!’.¬†A lot of these assumptions aren’t even compatible with other assumptions, but they get dragged along out of reflexive habit. I’d gone the other way. But the curious position is,¬†I’m thinking now, is that if you strip away all prior assumptions it doesn’t lead to something which is ‘the way it is’ and not¬†an assumption. Even the big bang and the much latter formation of our planet is essentially an assumption. I don’t mean I’m questioning the hypothesis that it’s true. I’m referring to the physics of this universe – why are they set the particular way they are? Who knows – it’s essentially an assumption to carry them over. Why have some of those physics laws or more in a game, when that’s just carrying on an assumption of ‘how things are’?

But after that, once you’ve stripped it back that far, there’s nothing.¬† I suppose you could hypothesize what else there is. But I’m more into getting past assumptions and dealing with what there is – but once you strip away all the assumptions, there is no ‘is’. Even physics are gone.

And yet I’m still definitely against just carrying baggage/old assumptions. I’ve thought before that roleplay seem to, over time, purge more and more assumptions out of me, while most other people seemed to go the other way and have more and more assumptions reinforced in them as ‘how things are’ without question.

At least for my own position, I may have overshot in an effort to get away from that unquestioning assumption making and it’s a question of which particular assumptions I want to carry into a game. If any. If I don’t want to¬†carry¬†any, then I don’t want to design a game. This isn’t flipping to the other extreme where assumptions are carried without question and without any self examination to see whether assumptions are carried. This is the conscious identification of assumptions¬†and then either the deliberate decision to carry one or more of these¬†assumptions, or not design at all. And that’s only assumptions that have been identified, as much as one can make sure the only ones that get through are the ones you have identified and¬†can percieve.

You can do anything…on a DS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhvhdGLZQ5g&feature=channel

The question it poses at the end ‘What would you write?’ is an odd one. It’s not like whether you can win is the conflict, but how you’d win.

If you haven’t had a look at the video, you need to grab a star and this game has a large dictionary in it. You can type in a word and it’ll make¬†that object appear¬†– like a ladder, if you just need to climb to get the star. But as the video shows, you could also write ‘beaver’ and it chews down the tree the star is in. Again, it seems like how you do it is more important than whether you can manage it.

I wonder if it’ll be helpful in illustrating different needs people bring with them when it comes to the activity called roleplay?

Neat idea for descriptive bonus XP

Though this was a neat idea here, except I’d say¬†instead of dividing XP gained for creative description, everyone gets the same amount of XP. Ie, if someone gets 30 XP for a creative move but then, in a group of¬†six,¬†only gets 5 points and watchs a bunch of couch potatoes get 5XP for doing nothing, you feel like your being sponged off of. But if everyone gets 30XP (or whatever the award is), then hey, cool!

Though the poster did seem to give it to protect people who feel they are being ‘punished’ if they aren’t creative and stuff. But, rather than trying to deal with that wussyness (as I see it), I think it’s nifty for other reasons. Though I do think people need some sort of kick in the pants, even if only mildly, rather than just giving to them or they feel all sad and stuff cause it’s ‘punishment’ not to get something they put no effort into getting.

Me? Advocate following the setting? How odd?

I can’t believe I’m advocating conforming, to some extent (doesn’t have to be alot) to the pre-established setting, over here. And Tommi would probably be wagging his finger for posting on the D&D boards as well. Look for¬†posts by¬†‘Noon’.

I’m actually quite a big supporter of the GM doing what he wants. But specifically in that one particular thing he could want to do is conform to the setting, to some extent, in how he judges things. And by conform, I mean by his own evaluation – the buck stops with him, unless rules say something about it stopping with someone else.

And I don’t even mean utter conformity to it – perhaps mostly mangling it and doing what you want, but some sort of nod and preservation of how it went prior.

And yet here I am – it’s almost like I advocated this idea of the GM doing what he wants, here and there, and the ideas gone extreme and come back to bite me in the bum! The GM advice there¬†just straight says to throw in monsters in to¬†meet the meta game objective the GM has, with zero reference to the setting. There’s alot of ‘it’s for the story’ nonsense justification, which is nonsense because either the setting is part of story, or you chose the wrong setting for your story.

Far out! It’s like I’m usually having to argue about it being a supported¬†illusion and really if the rules say the GM can do it, he can – but here I’m suddenly on the other side of the berlin wall, saying they have forgotten the very reasons they played a game that engages a setting at all (though I’ve left copious disclaimers that if you just wanted to engage the numbers, then cool, your doing what you want and have forgotten nothing of your objective, have fun and power to you)

Just bizarre – I do advocate that if you get to decide something, you do as you want. And that includes, if you want, trying to conform to the setting. But doing what you want can’t include failing to do what you want, as in ignoring setting utterly when it was something you wanted to do (and again, if they didn’t want to do it to being with, that’s fine, this doesn’t apply, have fun doing whatcha doin’).