Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Finished The Long War: Killer of men, Marathon, and, Poseidon's Spear

These books makes me want to run a GURPS game set in that era (early 5C BCE). Although I would recommend getting the Authors Bibliography, GURPS Low Tech, Greece, etc to run such a game. It would be a terribly small audience for such game sadly.

Its a great series, and similar to the The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell. I was not much of a fan of the era, but these series made me a fan. I've always been curious about the Ancient Eras after finishing the lectures on Origin of Civilization, Ancient Empires before Alexander, and my own Chinese History studies that deal in the eras of the Shang and Zhou Dynasty.

I love how the author gets into the detail about training, conditioning, and discipline. It reinforces my own training and my own aspirations. When he does so it brings up is the amount of work it takes to be as good as the characters. Stuff I wish was an element in a game that people would enjoy like I do: enjoy choosing the best habits, routines, and training habits of my PC and managing his psyche. If I could afford a 40lb kit (which I cant) the stories in the book reinvigorate me enough to pursue crossfit weighted vest training as well as getting back into kali.  

I love it when characters love training and making themselves better. They dont kill stuff to make themselves better, they train and the world turns. I like stories like that and which biases me to this book.

What I love about historical fiction is how it uses techniques in Non-fiction writing to amp up the emotional score of an event and action. It gives a lot of perspective and comparisons. Its fiction but the writer has some limitations with the material he has to draw from. Working with those limitations show techniques I can take up for my own storytelling.

The books are great and I bought them in Google Play store, because Amazon won't let me convert them to epub so I can use my Text To Speech app (@Voice Read Aloud) to listen to them as I have 2 hour commutes. The books are so well written It can convey its emotions even through the App.

Check out the Hippeis bibliography for setting research if you are going to try to get into it. Like in my basic understanding of Medieval Agriculture and Demographics it puts a TON of things in perspective and it enriches the immerision in the setting. The way the agricultural studies was important in the book, as the Author notes, Its my key challenge in my Chinese history studies.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Deliberate Practice in TRPGs

Finding and setting up Deliberate Practice in anything one does is a mindset I've recently adopted. So far I've identified opportunities for deliberate practice in the GM's domain. These are:

Player Scenes.
When I break down games, I break them down to scenes. As scenes its easier to limit the variables to create opportunities for deliberate practice.
1) Time to communicate,
2) effectiveness of communication (the player's feedback or watching recordings of such sessions),
3) How quickly one plans all the Scenes needed to achieve an X effect or push the story in a particular direction. this is a time metric along with a results or output metric.
4) breaking down and Identifying key elements a scene should have based on the circumstance. Being able to quickly identify the key element that moves the player and pushes the story. Metric is rating the Scene by how well it pushes the story forward. A simple QA rating of X/5 and trying to get better and better.
1) In player feedback,
2) watching rehersals, mirrors,
3) Discipline or Will or Dedication to go back to notes or recorded sessions to look and critique.

Ideating Player Options.
This exercise is basically thinking up the hardest options a player may give to the GM. This is a slow and deliberate skill which takes a lot of documentation, rehersal,  a solid set of problem solving abilities and process or logistical skills.
1) How many and quickly can the GM think up about his key Story thesis.
2) How quickly he can identify and track all the times players have stumped him. The measurable element is how quickly the GM will capture and document hard choices he has to make for review.
3) How many can he correctly predict player choices. Simple measure of how often the GM gets it right. But it can also measure in bounds (how many steps ahead can the GM predict based on how strongly he knows his players)
1) How the game progresses, this is a prediction and how often it is correct becomes a form of feedback.

Preparation is Deepwork.
Writing out the Game, the plan, the characters, and the NPCs is one of the first elements we can always track and is the most basic.
1) Elements Created. How many locations, NPCs, scenarios, scenes, plot hooks, and motivations can be made in a sessions of concentration in 4 hours straight.
2) Algorithms Created. More sophisticated than Elements are formulas to make improvised elements that can serve to push the story and the players forward.
3) How we budget our time in each elements. Measuring how we use our time to make fluff, elements, contingencies, study the players and their characters etc... How systematic one approaches this is measured in datapoints,  and the checklists and guides one creates, as well as the revisions one makes (and documentations). As well as the experimentation we make.
1) How much of the stuff is used vs how much is unused.
2) Rating how useful what was prepared.
3) Post Prep Feedback, our own estimation, vs How the player feedback. Always get player feedback or someone else's feedback. The more we delay it or avoid it, the more we undermine our commitment to be better and learn. I know we can take only so much humbling criticism, but growing ability to take feedback is always a useful trait.

If you know of any I've missed or some suggestions I'm open.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Deepwork in Games

From deepwork https://g.co/kgs/muQ3Bi I realized adventure making would be more than a 15min activity. I had previous goals of keeping it at 15 but after deepwork if the adventure creation doesn't go deep its value as personal improvement, a way to be in the zone or have flow, etc is vastly diminished. I would have just eliminated the opportunity of personal growth.

Deep work has also given me an idea of using the first 15 mins letting the players immersed and set the rhythm of the turns and how to push for flow. It also points out diminishing returns for the hard mental activity as well as how changing gears helps the pacing and the brain from burnout.

If you use GTD for gaming and life , thinking fast and slow for mental stretching and problem solving challenges, Grit for character development guide, then deepwork would be a good book that applies to life and games. Game prep and the session fall under deep work (one is collaborative deep work).

If you happen to take general productivity tips, techniques, and inspiration and apply it to life and games I'm always up for finding more.