Thursday, July 14, 2016

What Augmented Reality means to TRPG players: LARP Tools

With Pokemon GO all the rage its become clear that Augmented Reality Games will be the trend to look forward to. For Us TRPGers that means the possibility of more play opportunities with Virtual LARPS.

  • LARP Tools: 
    • All the Props are Virtual
    • Coordination and Communicating will be easier: 
      • Simple Coordination between large groups to set up a LARP type event
      • Send Scripts to NPCs through their Device
      • Discover Volunteers and their Availability through the Device
      • APIs that organize all the information, participants, and activities. 
      • Execute Template Events and Activities through the APPs. 
      • Using QR code or GPS for locations or ITEM based discoveries. 
        • Hidden Items with QR codes for special treasures

    • Facilitation of Character Abilities through the APPs.
      • Skill Checks through the APPS
      • Inventory through the Apps.
      • Information Access through the APPs
        • Characters with certain skills have information about something or someone based on their Observation or Special Skills. 
      • Combat through the Apps: 
      • Kinesthetic Activation of Attacks (no Touching) and Defenses. 
    • Props for the Devices - 
      • to add functionalities (like the TAP wearable keyboard)
        • Looking forward for Devices that allow for Martial Arts capture
        • Glasses HUD as the phone will not be accessible in play.
      • Packages that customize user interface and GUI for certain kind of play.
      • to add capabilities or range (Like batteries)
      • to make them in theme or discrete,
      • Make Traps, or Location or QR code Triggers. 
    • Virtual Locations, Creatures, and Avatars. 
      • No budget for all the props, just get props to make a place look good virtually. Make a Dungeon, Castle, Cave, Market, Town, etc. 
      • Monster Encounters or PVP 
      • Retrieve Item X with a QR code adventures. Or collect these Items and receive a reward when turning them in. 
      • Avatar Markets. As you flip through IP Lenses you see different worlds and different Avatars and Virtual Props based on the IP you are looking at. You may see Star Wars Props, D&D, Final Fantasy etc... Make a location something in the Virtual World (like in Ingress). 
  • Larger Scale LARPS, coordination with larger amount of people. 
  • More Opportunistic LARPS. Like Pokemon GO, LARP or adventures that can be squeezed in 5-15 minutes. 

Lolz. In 5 Years my brother's organizational ability of Running LARPS would be a highly valued skill for BIG IPs like DnD, Final Fantasy, Star Wars who will want him to run their Augmented Reality LARPS for him. They should get LARPS to get their best practices early and incorporate and enhance them via the tech. Serious Larp organizers have the background and skill in facilitating these events. 

In 5 years 4GB ram would be the low end and 8GB would be the mid end for most Devices. 

Mental Organization as part of the Game

what one carries with them is a bit of a fascination. I'm pretty cluttered and want to declutter but there are things that I carry with me which have a pay off that reinforces carrying around extra baggage. But then there are those who manage to figure and do so much with less.

I like tracking inventory and encumbrance and i like looking and finding out other people's load outs. Their load out for combat, real life, work, going out on some adventure, their trekking load out, etc... Its fascinating and encouraging.

In TRPGs encumbrance rules and keeping inventory  are on of many lists we keep. Then there is the character which has lists of abilities, weaknesses, motivations, priorities, relationships, open loops,  etc... an inventory of so many things.

I like bringing some of those mental disciplines and habits in the games I play. I like seeing it in others so I can look. When no one else exhibits such traits it can be dull and small problems get bigger. Mastery petty details and challenges are such a small thing but I've realized when we see Attention as such a precious scarce resource how we approach details determines how effectively we use our attention.

I guess that's why I like trying to master the little things: so I can tackle the harder things easier. That's kinda the key lesson in Checklist manifesto I took away - I want to free up mental ram with the small things and focus on the big things. That tracking these petty feats and tricks may elevate us to deal with more interesting and important challenges.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hard Mode 60-80 Part 2

Hard Mode 60-80 rule was meant to stress direct agency in a situation. It highlights that some situations we cannot control if we have no direct influence in the matter.  These situations that have been mechanically given a lot of control over would need this cap. Examples of these rules is Mass Combat, Professional Rolls, and any roll dealing with organizations and complex entities (i havent read board room and cura which has rules regarding this).

But what I want to stress through this rule are the following:

Working with Direct Influence.
If some key things needs to be done then the PCs take the matters in their hands. They move to be in direct influence of the events. There will be things beyond their control or influence, but there are some ways around that and ways to move themselves directly into the situation and influence its outcome to the effect of the bigger picture.

There are mechanics in some games, not just GURPS, which grants the PC a surprising amount of influence despite there being no influence in it. Like choosing Stocks vs beating the Market, there is an illusion of control.

Examples of where at default there is a lot of Control but there should be a limit:
  • Leadership. it assumes the control is in the leader. 
  • Influence Checks at first glance. its inconsistently adjudicated as the contest or a roll by the influencer. 
  • Mass Combat. When actually there should be more of a TDM representing the group instead of the the Strategist or Tactician's skill level allowing for an uncapped success rate. 
  • Profession Rolls. a professional has his skill level as his success  over a month of work, as is the rules is an oversimplification sets problematic conclusions and extrapolations.  
  • Rolls against complex systems: Marketing, Physician, Politics, Economics, Sociology, Finance, etc... any system with many "actors". The solution is to Capp success (as this post is about) and emphasis on TDM of the situation.  
TDM and not The Agent.
A lot of rolls and circumstances are really more about the Situation (Task Difficulty Modifier) and there is a limit to the control and influence of the Agent or Character.  The examples above all would be shifting the "control" or "influence" away from a Single Agent and the GM should just call the Circumstance.

Choosing your battles. 
Those situations we can directly influence and identify those we cannot. This is my favorite bias and bad habit which GTD has been helping me work out: doing too much vs doing what matters. The GM can present so many problems and little distractions that would make the game as overwhelming as it really is in the real world but the ability or the wisdom to know what problem to tackle or how to break down a big problem into smaller chunks is a key challenge that may be worth "skinner boxing"  in a game.

But note this is Hard Mode. That challenges and complexities such as this and other such mechanics are only for those who feel like they want do something different and challenge themselves. Going into these challenges without more basic problem solving has been tackled can lead to frustration and distraction from what makes the game enjoyable.

What this is NOT
That there is no way to influence events. There are limits to influence events.

Hard Games
Hard games are going to be tackled in a long post I'm still rewriting about the research of myself and others about Traveller (including GURPS Traveller) that over time the failure rates of any business in traveller is greater than half (meeting the base rates in the real world for small businesses of 70-90% over 3-5 years). That running procedurally the game is unforgiving, and can be really fun.

Related Issues: