Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hiatus and Projects

I have several great Ideas (well they sound great until I realize how much work they take) for articles and this blog is just talking about them because they tend to require more drafts and research to complete. So right now I’m doing projects where work and studies happen to give me material to finish the articles.

FYI we have a baby due this November and I'm sure you know all the time it takes to get the nest ready for the new baby and the mother. So RESEARCH and writing is opportunistic and irregular. 

Most recent:
Mass Combat Made Easy.
Mass Combat is a very interesting topic because after careful study its presents a lot of challenges that are new and a radical paradigm shift.
Mass Combat has Logistics: Manpower losses, supplies, shifts, recruitment, training, and managment of morale. It presents a world where you need Forces to win certain battles, or a paradigmn where characters (Pcs and NPCs) cannot win on their own.
If we go more realistic we exploit the Stereotyping bias to muddy the decision making and test what coping mechanism the Pcs have to overcome such biases.
The article was designed to look at how you game and work on trading off or changing what we normally do to suit more Mass Combat. It seeks to basically break down a certain kind of game and trade off the basic party centric game with that focuses on Groups. Of course that means I’d have to clearly tackle How We Game.

How we Game.
This is an interesting topic because I can only draw from observation and personal experience. I do have the advantage of having recorded sessions and listening to recorded sessions from Podcast games out there.
Basically I’ve gone to create my own definitions of basic categories:
Roleplaying. The immersion, visualization, and getting into character and interacting with the game setting. The definition goes to define a broad range of Player and GM Activities that seeks to Get Into the Character and Setting as well as creating a Personal or World Narrative.
Action. Well its not just Combat I’d like to say anything with a faster paced feedback loop. The characters perform an action and immediately they see feedback and consequences. They are also under threat, undertake risks, and continously feedback rewards, losses, costs, uncertainty, and clarifying focus on scope. It goes long to basically explain and define the two basic things that we do in a game and how much time do we spend doing it OR how much time we make for each activity.
Preparation. Game related preparation is also something I wanted to define and tackle. Particularly breaking it up to chunks that is directly useful in the game, contingencies we may need, or reflections and process improvements we do: like writing, reflecting, and planning how we will do things differently.
Camaraderie. I wanted to bundle up Aftercare and getting to know and getting along with one’s players or other players. Knowing the GM and what he has planned and how we can match expectations with all the risks, uncertainties, and missteps of socialization. We may be to forward in our suggestions, listening vs taking on a suggestion, negotiating expectations, etc...
These all require their own posts if I were to keep a budget of time and wordcount to write and the ton of time to prep, rewrite, outline, and self-edit.

How we play is a great context to dealing with more complex topics and other topics. Particularly since I’m approaching the Game with how we spend time and each category has a broad and detailed set of activities that may be applicable.
In hindsight I should have a Published Google docs of the How we game and maybe a way guide of self analysis. More tools means more time and forethought to make them, so I’m vasilating between getting things done and meeting expanding scope of work that maximizes User Experience.

Open Projects. Ideally, but unlikely, some of my writing will spur discussion and forking. If thats the case I can make them into a Gdoc and open it up for permission to edit and fork.

Other Projects.
Open Character Action and Resources. While I did tackle it briefly in a previous post what I want to do is make an Open List of Action and Limits. Allow for continuous improvement process of how best to model resources, limits, and actions.
This has a lot of work related inspiration since I need to time and motion a lot of activities and improve the U-Ex or user experience doing various tasks in work. Like boiling down basic activities with documentation and note taking, and reports that are pretty much auto-generated from the dashboard the department maintains.

Base Rate of Failure. Previously it was Traveller: Case Study or Traveller Hard Adventures. It was a writing project about high difficulty and how to cultivate a strong sense of agency in players desite challenging odds. It goes into a lot of details and may hit close to home as it challenges the Mindset of the players

Session Scene and Acts Checklist. Basically a few checklists on Roleplaying, Action, and Camaraderie. It includes a template of what information should be noted when tracking player session experience (not the experience reward but how the player really experiences the session). It also gives a template on how to make a checklist for an Act. It tries to help the GM pick up if the emotion and circumstance meets a certain criteria to move into the next act.
We are multi-tasking creating a checklist helps in disfluency aka slowing down to process the observable information the players are exhibiting.

Occasion to Roll. A very basic element and I have a simple and new technique to make this interesting: make the Margin of Failure the Cost of Conditional Success. This means if Johnny fails by 5 this is the additional cost he needs to make the success.
This means the Feedback loop of the roll does not end with the information of Success or Failure but t leaves it up to the player if they choose to spend more time and resources for it to succeed and at what cost they are willing to pay.
But if thats not a clear enough picture and you want alternate strategies in managing expectations, thresholds , tension etc... then you will have to wait for the article because it has to tackle all the natural questions that will arise when we can succeed at extrodinary cost and how scarcity affects the adventure.

Clarity and Filtering. I wanted to talk about how strongly we communicate key ideas to players as we run the game. How clearly we can emphasize on some clues or elements of the story, AND how the GM pick up on some. Both the GM and Player can both benefit in a prearranged signalling system of what they feel is important for their character or narrative.

Character Development. Expanding on how we play I look at time and motion of various Role Playing Activities and how I examine them by mysel with a mirror and recorder as feedback.
How we talk to Players and ask them how they want to develop their characters and how we can watch for Agency Affirming time spend in the game. (and how they learn to share that and listen to create Psychological Safety).

Relationship Checks. This was an article with scarcity of Promises, Time spend with people, and Credibility in mind. It boils down relationships, credibility, and behavioral reputation as a scarce resource that requires upkeep.

Cost of Living. An introduction to small Gdoc I maintain as I study cost of living here in the Philippines (its partially done with). I will make a chapter on Low Tech Cost of Living in the document. I plan to make it open (with permission) for others to fork or contribute.

Zones Part 2. I have a second part for zones getting into the details of assembling a portable gaming bag that weighs about 4lbs at the most. Design for a table of 0.5sqm and cramped space but still able to record.
It goes into plans of how to manage space effectively and in a budget.

Life Period Events Mechanics. Based on the Traveller Events Life Path mechanics I made a life event mechanics but it leverages not just the Sum of the Dice but two ways of interpreting the same roll (by asking the player to predetermine which of the two dice as a seperate variable). It has a lot of math and template and category creation so it has a lot of back end work for me to finish it.

Problem Solving Style Games. Aka Case Study game style. Basically how to have an action Feel with non-combat elements and how to make these feel more exciting and agency enhancing.

My review of the “The Grand Stragegy of the Byzantine Empire by Eward Luttwak”. A Gamers Guide to the Book and what are the useful chunks and how they are useful for your game and your learning of other history. Having useful stuff to Take Away is a key theme of reading all these books lolz.

Making Logistics Fun. A guide to making logistics fun and how much work or certain characteristics are needed to empower the player, make it easy, and make it feel real and make sense. I may have to write this before Problem Solving Style Games because its a key part in such games. I'll go into the Encyclopedia of Operations for this, use the RPG Design Pattern terminology, and give an example a simple dice mechanic.  

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