Monday, December 17, 2007

Weekly Review December 9th to December 15th

This week has followed last with an upswing in theory developments.

Classifying Setting

Chris Chinn describes two useful kinds of RPG settings. Canonical settings define the context of the game containing thematic options and ideally giving players a reference frame in which to play. Evocative settings ideally provide little information, and instead provide tools that enable players to construct elements based on what the setting evokes for them.

Process of Roleplay

Nathan Paoletta brushes up against theory while working on his RPG Design Handbook. He describes a conceptual way to understand the process of playing RPGs, "a process of collaborative creation, wherein each person involved is both a participant in and an observer of changes made to the fiction of that particular instance of roleplaying."

Diagrams of Theory

John Kim compiles four graphical models of RPGs: Spheres of Performance, The Big Model, The Process Model, and finally Levi Kornelsen's new Big Muddle. This later diagram is discussed further at I would knife fight a man.

Creative Agenda Re-Examined

Over at I would knife fight a man, Vincent Baker attempts to reconstruct another way to approach creative agendas. This has resulted in an exploration of the distinction between story and game within RPGs.

Weekly Review December 2nd to December 8th

This week has seen a continuation of some of the theory developments last week, especially focusing on discussions at I would knife fight a man.

Adventure Focused

Algi develops an adventure description language for constructing and codifying the situations in play. He suggests that this level has been largely ignored by RPG theory, and has a significant influence on how we play.

Undirected Play

Over at I would knife fight a man is a discussion about the Forge concept of Zilchplay. This is expanded and described as play which lacks direction, whether that direction is consistent or inconsistent.

Big Model Talk

Elsewhere on I would knife fight a man, Ben Lehman and Jessica Hammer have entered into a one-on-one discussion on the Forge theory and culture. This includes such topics as creative agenda, tinkering and house rules, and how the Forge community approaches theory.

Monthly Review November 2007

November has been a slow month, with a few simple trends appearing through out. One is the continuing work of Levi Kornelsen, who at the beginning of the month posted his ideas on goals and stances at GameCraft, focusing specifically on the way that play can satisfy different goals among players. Later on, he develops these same ideas as a counter point to the Big Model at I would knife fight a man.

Another theme of note has been the examination of time as a cost during and before play. Chris Chinn describes this as the main cost of character death in his work on hacking D&D. Likewise, Rich Warren sought a way to minimize these same costs for the construction and playing of story-centered games.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Weekly Review November 25th to December 1st

Different perspectives can often provide useful ways to break from existing patterns of theory. This week has seen several of these.

Larp Resources

Over at RPGnet is a discussion on contested resources and larp dynamics. Some participants suggest that limited resources can be designed to produce good long term conflicts between characters, while others suggest that it produces negative situations during play. Still others suggest that resource struggles will occur naturally over long playing larps, even if it is only emergent status or story control.

Creative Enjoyments

Over at I would knife fight a man, Levi Kornelsen began a thread comparing his recent work with goals with creative agendas in Forge models. The culmination is to disambiguate the player-level, enjoyment-focused theories of Kornelsen and others from the group-level creative aesthetic which makes up a creative agenda. While the two approaches to describing how people play RPGs work on different levels, they may yet influence and further each other.