Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Weekly Review May 4th to May 10th

This has been a slow week in RPG theory, but with some continuation from previous developments.

Crunch and Fluff

Willow Palecek expands on the relationship between fiction and rules by looking as specific sub-forms of play which strongly accentuate one over the other.

Weekly Review April 27th to May 3rd

This has been a productive week in RPG theory, with some new work and some re-envisionment of earlier ideas.

Modes of Design

Fang Langford takes a good look at the different approaches that can be taken in the process of design - both in terms of the design products and in the viewpoints used when constructing and testing games. He suggests an incomplete set of these approaches: Disputative (focusing on conflicts and their resolution), Synergistic (focusing on cooperation and its facilitation), Individualistic (focusing on internal goals and contexts), and Collaborative (focusing on social features of play). He argues that most design happens with interplay between these modes.

Fiction in the Rules

Bradley "Brand" Robins discusses the the interplay of fiction and rules, building the idea that the one of the characteristics of RPGs is the presence of fiction within the game rules. He extends this idea to the concept of continuity discussed earlier this year. Elsewhere, Jonathon Walton takes this idea and delves further into RPGs which "lead with the fiction". He suggests this is related to free-form and rules-lite movements, but need not be averse to explicit rules.

Weekly Review April 20th to April 26th

This week has seen several attempts to expand the scope of RPG theory, both from the basics and from the edges.


Elliot Wilen looks at defining RPGs as a series of expected characteristics, rather than requirements. He develops three core criterion: aesthetic or thematic goals, freeform procedures (where the vision of the world can override the rules), and a lack of fixed motivations. He also suggests that a lack of endgame is a related, but largely disproved criteria.

Chaotic Fiction

Over at RPGnet is a discussion on borrowing a concept from Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and applying it to LARPs. Specifically, the concept of chaotic fiction - fiction which sits between the random and the structured. Part of this has been to extend the three axes which control the chaos into the context of LARP: Authorship (architect versus audience), Rules (built in structures), and Coherence (thematic and plot consistency among events).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekly Review April 13th to April 19th

This has been a slow week in RPG theory, but not without developments.

Beyond Yes and No

Tommi Brander talks about resolution and blocking, and different variants to these two methods. As he puts it, resolution is essentially affirming a contribution from a player, while blocking simply negates it. The remainder involve contributions in response: switching - negating and changing the situation, opening - negating and offering options, complicating - affirming and changing the situation, and building - affirming and offering options.

Weekly Review April 6th to April 12th

This week has seen some activity in RPG theory, dealing with the general process and products of play.

Rules and Paradigm

Elliot Wilen separates out the means and process of playing RPGs into two categories for design. One is the system or rules of the game. The other is the paradigm of the game, which determines responsibilities and expectations. He suggests that most RPG design mixes these two, but paradigm becomes more prevalent as during play - becoming the foundation of how the game is actually played.

Meanwhile, Vincent Baker talks about where rules can bring something to play beyond what paradigm's understandings and agreements can. Specifically, he suggests that rules produce "the unwelcome and the unwanted", but well designed rules produce them in such as way to be compelling to the players.

Products of Playing

Adam Dray discusses the view of play as the product of the techniques, social agreements, and processes that make up the game. Later on, he expands on this idea pertaining to designer's intent and the products which players will enjoy. The result is a variety of possible outcomes of design, and possible ways to remedy those less desirable.