Friday, November 17, 2017

Hi from my Hiatus

I have two kids now and I'm trying to turn around the family business, which by experience (of those who know better than me) takes about 3-5 years. So I'm definitely not able to game for the Longest Time - probably in the next 5-8 years.

I hope to be able to Say Hi, time to time from my hiatus.

Some musings.

  1. Following the FB groups about Romans and Medieval groups, the very active ones, I realize the Roman Tech (and thanks to De Agricultura) is pretty much a wealthy source of Low Tech Economics and Business Models to understand the times and the limits. Also they have awesome photo albums or Naval Pictures and Diagrams. 
  2. My Work is giving me inspiration for Games and Games inspire my work (I work as a Director of a Design and Build Furniture and Construction company). Particularly the models and mechanics that let me run a Fun Logistics Puzzle Games, and the uncertainty of human organizations. I work like a prep heavy GM that is unafraid of improv and has a focus on feedback with the players. 
  3. I definitely will need to run Warring States 200-500BCE China. The Diodochi series of Christian Cameron and my Chinese Studies have given me a great appreciation of the Time Before the Roman Empire or the Qin and Han Dynasty.  I'm able to see the Technological Parallels of the Roman Empire and their Eastern Counterparts in a way they are similar with exceptions that can be used to Model other such levels of organization. 
  4. The Human Era 10,000BCE or seeing everything from the perspective of the most Ancient Monuments in Turkey - that we are 12,017HE puts the 200-500BCE the 9500-9800HE. That they Great Bronze Age collapse is just the 8500-8800HE. That humanity may have had other levels of organization from 0HE to what we were able to dig up. That there are still an amazing set of things we are able to do prior to Metallurgy. 
  5. That Aging Penalties were a Buzz Kill that I have to accept now that I'm nearing 40 and i am able to monitor and document the decline of my physical performance. My median performance is more stable and better in some cases, but the limits I can push them have decreased. Its not that I've become weaker -its just I learned how much pointless damage I'm inflicting on my body. That It takes more effort (time in the day) to maintain my health than when I was young and I wasted it. That every excursion (like an airsoft game) is a risk of some injury that will give me pain for a long time, while sitting on my ass and playing something for 4-6 hours straight is not a luxury I can afford (given how my joints and body reacts when not active).  
    1. Basically I learned the long term effects of periods of Youthful exuberance, mindless of safety and the long term costs.  
  6. if I run games again, that it would be 40-50 minutes increments with a Tabata/Pomodoro Timer and have 10-20mins to move around, freshen up, and take notes. My Session planning will be based on those time units. 
    1. I would want to record them all. 
    2. A strategy of Cutting and Editing a Game session for ease of viewing. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finished Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson

A great read 5/5.

And I  need to sched a sit down reread it:
1) for the jeffro criteria of bad and good rpg elements. I need to nail it down into a criteria for my gaming skills Gdoc.
2) to form a to read list so I can download it all in one sitting. I also need to improve on my author style analysis criteria. So that as I go through the yo read list I capture examples and great portions for analysis, modeling, and methodology development.
A good book for me has actionable knowledge - even if the action is directing me to knowledge. It also has a great criterias to allow me my own judgement and understand underlying assumptions.
I personally like alway checking the source material, always check or make accessible the sources. Having the derivative and originals is a great data point for comparisons.

Personal notes. 

I can relate. I'm born 1979. The guys that got me into gaming were guys 4-5 years older than me. the guys who got them into Gaming were 10-12 years older than me. I got to game with the guys who taught them to game like Bobby Navarro, Nikos Ong, Ben-g Perez etc... These guys were the original group of guys who played in the Baredo Home, during the early 80s when they first brought D&D in the philippines. So I have this weird relationship going half a generation to our senior Gaming Generation. I tried to read what they read, and saw how hey gamed.

Being able to look at the Source Material is always important. Especially when things can be so confusing and derivative and we lose track of inspirations and technique. We lose track of getting better if we can't track where we learned and our mistakes (and the mistakes of others).

After reading it I've set up my library to check out the sources. I love studying author styles, so learning how present day authors learned their techniques and pacing is a great learning experience and opportunity.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Complexity and Details; Bad Benchmarks

In the last Post I talked about how I use The 20 Rules of Formulating Knowledge as a criteria for books and knowledge in general.

I wanted to talk about some pet peeve, particularly Physical limitations. Something I talked about before and can be seen in how I use movement rules to look at how well a game models physical limitations. Now that shit doesnt matter in the grand scheme of things, at the same time details do matter. The whole argument about GURPS and other such crunchy systems is about how to deal with complexity.

This is where 20rffk applies and can make my life in gaming and work so much easier. It helps us by being able to deal with complexity - we are not afraid of it, neither daunted, or bothered in a way that would distract us. It is in mastering how we organized knowledge (what ever note taking system you use) and how we 5S our mind, workspace, or gaming space that allows us to deal with any sort of complexity.

Of course there are details to this thesis. There are Constraints (a term I  use to categorize a group of details that limit actions and goals) to consider.

  • It helps that the Game Book educates or facilitates the learning of being better organized and able to prioritize. That it give knowledge that adheres to the 20rffk - so its saves time and facilitate practice in 
  • That the game book has well defined goals and objectives for the gamers can use for themselves. Something more useful and SMART than FUN.
  • That it teaches how to set up a feedbackloop between the Participants and the Goals.

Call to Action

to deal with Complexity we have to have a foundation of Knowledge acquisition and organization. 

  1. Try to Define your SMART gaming goals. Define and Measure how you and your group, have fun. When you do, you slowly start creating testable criterias. 
  2. Have a Methodology, Communicate that with your Peers or Group, and have feedback loop going. 
  3. Organize your knowledge and feedback, adapt, think and feedback. 

The Distracting Rant I wanted to talk about

Physical Limitations are details worthy of our attention. Physical Education 体育 is one of those things related to First Aid, Being healthy, and understanding the Ethics of Being Healthy. Its one of those Skills that are prerequisite to a healthy and stable society. 

No your character cannot hike 30miles/48km a day carrying 60lbs/27kg for  like a month! Reasonable physical benchmarks have become more accessible each passing year. Its just amazing how a person without lifting skill can pick up 50% their bodymass and not injure themselves. 

You know how often I think of Physical Limitations- EVERY TIME I WORK OUT! EVERYDAY I wonder if I'm permanently injuring myself or making my core stronger so I can do HEMA in 30lbs of gear one day or when I play airsoft  with 20lbs of gear doing encircling maneuvers in hilly terrain with my 38 year old knees against guys under 30. That all my friends are suffering some kind of physical ailment and are trying to do some physical therapy to get over their weaknesses. 

I dont like character physical benchmarks and limitations to be set on SUPER specialized Modern day Olympians. I dont like Physical Limitations that fail to capture what IS remarkable. I don't like setting up the wrong benchmarks - that demotivate people from achieving tangible gains or appreciate every hard won millimeter. 

The same goes with Mental Limitations - my learning Chinese has taught me a lot of what it costs to be able to speak it and read it. That when every company tries to squeeze the productive hours of its employees to the last drop, that what is left is for self-care, family, relationships, and recovery - that there is barely any time or space for personal development. 

To sum it up, I dont like bad benchmarks. I know we make shit up in the fly but when more realistic benchmark comes up, lets be ready to adapt to a better model. We go through game mechanics the way we go through apps, games, movies, tv shows, etc.... Its a tiny detail - its wrong, but it annoys me to no end because everyday mandarin at broken has added up to more than 600 manhours. That just eating right takes about hundreds of hours of Tries, failed experiments, and going too far. That there is a lot of Human Experience behind some bad numbers. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

How I use the 20rffk to evaluate RPG books.

The 20 rules of formulating knowledge violates its own rules. I'm spoiling for anyone who hasn't read this and removing the chance to have this awesome discovery. When you realize it violates itself, then you may realize that it becomes the first exercise of the 20rffk.

Going back to TRPGs, below is the simplified version of the 20rffk.

  1. Understandable. 
  2. Simplified.
  3. Organized.
  4. Engaging. 

#5 User Friendly. Does it give me all the tools that saves me time to run my game. In one prep session can I print out all the tools? Tables, Character Sheets, Rule References, Flow Charts etc...

My Methodology

Basically this is Auditing, we check against something, typically criteria or SMART goals
  1. Take note of Violations to the 5 point criteria.
  2. Taken note when they go out of their way to explain further. If they use more than one way to explain a point and they used one of the 5 point criteria. 
  3. Take note when I don't understand. 

The 20 rules of formulating knowledge Simplified to 4 points.


1 Understand to learn.* (Do not learn if you do not understand)
2 Learn before you memorize
3 Build on the Basics

*my favored methodology is always to frame as an action and detail as a constraint. 


3 Build on the Basics
4 Use the minimum information principle
5 Simplify and make discrete each bit of knowledge (originally Cloze deletion is easy and effective)
6 Use Imagery. It takes some visual planning and design to formualte what images help engage the audience as well as serve a learning tool. Rarely do game writer work with their designers for visual learning aids the focus more on engagement. 
7 Use Mnemonic Techniques
12 Optimize Wording


8 Use formulas, models, or definition (originally Avoid Sets). instead of creating a set and filling in the elements of the set, just use a formula to describe the category. 
Chunk Information (Originally Avoid enumeration; chunking means keeping this 2-4 bits long)
11 Track Interference (Originally Combat Interference)
12 Optimize Wording
18 Provide Sources
17 #3 and always create a link to the basics (originally Redundancy does not contradict the minimum information principle)
19 All relevant accessible and referenced. (original Provide Date stamping. in the case of TRPGs, create a way for people to see all the relevant topics under a category like the See Also section in wikipedia. this is for the purpose of updates, errata, and other such added details that accumulate over time)
20 Prioritize.


6 Use Imagery
7 Make discrete Imagery notes, while keeping a holistic view (Graphic deletion is as good as cloze deletion)
13 Give tools for Personalization (Originally Refer to others memories; the best way to create tools for personalization is knowing your audience)
14 Personalize and Provide Examples. (allow the audience to be able to personalize)
15 Rely on Emotional States
16 Context cues simplify wording

Goals and Objectives

A strong relationship with our audience, even those who don't agree with us or have the same preferences. A methodology and process can be critiqued and communicated to other people. It creates a basis to align our perspectives as well as to allow us to include the perspectives of others. 

Assuming (Criteria, Goals and Objectives, and Methodology) is where a lot of miscommunication begins. Its better to have it all out and written for feedback than to not write it and make incorrect assumptions.  


What caused me to write this is the argument about knowledge complexity. The 20rffk helped create a method of measuring complexity. I will post more on bridging the Gap of Audience and Product in the future. But this post and the related post are the basics.

Inaccessible Knowledge is knowledge that cannot be used or enjoyed. Everything learned occupies space (in its written form) and time, and it all adds up to make things more complicated and complex as to be inaccessible. If we are very connected with our audience and empathic of their circumstance we can overcome the Isolationist tendency of being in an Ivory tower with our knowledge.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

When the line of my Characters and me blur

So I'm a min maxer, also known as a munchkin, and the goal of looking for the optimal character combination went a bit too far or it can be said that it was not far enough.

Hey my character does something cool, why can't I do that? 

At first we say its fantasy, but then we research on line for precedents and other examples and then it doesnt seem so far and fantasy anymore. By accident, I started doing the first part of Problem Solving: I started gathering information and asking questions.

I can Change me.

Have a munchkin/min-maxer and you have someone who's mastered the ability to twist and justify any rational for an advantage. Someone who can start believing the mix of half truths and distorted perspectives they used to justify their character. After all its Role-playing and this is just another thing to pretend. 

But my Character kicks ass, his world view and skills are engaging. I like playing and pretending in doing the things I believe he does to maintain his ability as no ability exists in a vacuum. So I study, work out a little, track how I use time, calculate and evaluate my options. 

I am how I spend my time. 

If who I am is by my actions then what do I do? 

Hour/Week Character Points. Get a Guestimation of how much time do I spend doing stuff per week. If am how I spend my time then I know what I am by how I spend my time. You don't need to even go into great detail, you just need to be honest and it can be a honest secret of secrets.

Wow my character sucks balls. But wait, I've played mundanes before. What kind of gamer would I be if I couldn't manage this character?

Engagement and Empathy

My character is human. He has limitations, biases, and motivations. A challenge to overpowered would not just bankrupt him, but can demoralize him, and permanently alter the cost of improvement and his life. He has to be able to engage with the Challenges he faces. He has to be able to really believe he can change his mind, that he is not some hapless NPC that will stubbornly be in denial of actual conditions that conflicts with what they assume or believe. Maybe I can throw some of that Empathy to others and myself. 

30 hours a week working, 3 hours a week on health, 10 hours a week studying, 10 hours a week distracted, 50 hours a week sleeping, 2 hours a week on grooming, the rest on family and household (50+ hours). No time much for friends or socializing.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Studying Authors' Writing Style

I need to create a good method of researching an Author's writing style. here is my draft process:

  1. Google/Search Author's Writing Style
    1. (Needs a list of key words and terms to try)
  2. Dump them all in the Gaming Skills Doc as references for processing. Typically I slowly work my way through them. 
  3. Proceed to draft and model one of the aspects of the storyteller's style.
    Note: I can't get the OVERALL style, I can only comment a piece of the authors style like the blind men and the elephant
    1. Categories tend to follow Pacing. 
      1. Immersion, Setting Expectations. 
      2. Hooks, Building up to Climax, Complications, Escalation of Conflict. Cliff Hangers  
      3. Pivoting, Twists, Deflecting, etc...
      4. Closure.
  4. Sort and Collect a number of Author Styles for evaluation into TRPG storytelling. 

Started on Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I notice the author works with a lot of complex elements and pleasant distractions. He can hammer at your attention with one two punches of descriptives that lean but filling for your imagination. Then when your attention is saturated he pivots the story into directions that surprise and engage.

When I compare him to my favorite author - Jim Butcher uses more modern memes to embed a lot of meaning with a few words while Christian Cameron uses a lot of athletic, logistic, and military immersive detail to draw my attention.

I have a Hypothesis that Storytellers need to be armed with all the various ways to describe key Interest point. It can be either Logistics, Geometry of Combat, Athletics, Attention, Beauty, Nature, Cities, etc... That one can use the 20rffk to create a methodology of describing one and another, and that some methods can carry over to another field/specialty.

Narrative Combat - describing Combat Geometry, and Physical Movements of Fighting and Time are one of the methodologies I want to help detail.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Gaming Skill List Update: Redefining Goals

The original goal of the Gaming Skill list was that it was a place to dump knowledge useful to gaming. It typically drew from a lot of places. One favorite use was Rules of thumb or Heuristics we used in Work Operations and Daily life.

The Document has gone through some changes that mirror my professional training and my general education. Particularly in Process Systems Engineering, Language Studies, and my experience at work and life.

Process Systems and Project Management is teaching me to better organize information in a way that it can be acted on, replicated, taught, and communicated.

My mandarin studies was a revelation about Spaced Repetition System and Active Recall Testing. It has influenced the document in how it is possible to train in Storytelling, Improv, Problem Solving, and Analysis Techniques. That is why Its being reorganized in a way that the Techniques can be made into a Flashcard for SRS.

Another revaluation was the GMless Game. The GMless game is an inspiration because it means that the work is trully shared and everyone has the duty and responsibility to Uplift the other person's story and experience in the game. Its one of the things I learned from Transformational Leadership. That real transformational leadership transforms a group that they don't need a leader to organize and rise to aid each other to make something greater than the sum of its parts.  That everyone takes a role adapting to the situation, everyone may have their strengths, but they are cross trained and coordinated to mitigate each other's weaknesses. I know that there needs to be some accountability placed on some individuals and all those tiny little details and constraints in how such a transformational team works out but i wont go into the long rambling thesis of it.

Current Challenges in the Document is organizing some of the Self Improvement and Study Aids into it. The Document serves to help gamers, like myself, be better at creating a collaborative game experience by having more skills and tools for them to create an immersive experience (analysis techniques and storytelling techniques for delivery), compelling action (through problem solving techniques, and again storytelling techniques), and a way to feedback and work on one's weaknesses or work towards a strength.

One underlying philosophy of the Gaming Skill list is that - its System Agnostic Approach to improving our gaming experience. That our skills in collaboration, storytelling, problem solving and improv has the BIGGEST impact on game experience relative to the time we put in.


How this document is supposed to be used.

  1. Technique or Heuristics
    1. Basic Description of Technique (if Needed)
    2. How it is used (Process of the Technique which follow 20rffk)
    3. Examples
    4. References or Sources
    5. Description at Length
  2. Definitions or Knowledge
    1. Basic Description
    2. How it is Used
    3. Example of Use
    4. References or Sources
  3. Activity
    1. Basic Description
    2. How it is Used
    3. Example of Use
    4. Reference or Sources

Organization and Categories

Running Games

All the knowledge that deals with Running the Game.


Deals with the Player’s Ideation and collaboration. Skills and abilities in collaborating with other players tend to default to here.   


Deals with Player’s Narrative Delivery and Structure.  

Problem Solving

Deals with skills and techniques that help identify or define the everything around the creation of conflict and its resolution. Like course of action, challenges, problems, risks, constraints, strengths, weaknesses etc....   


These are all the time consuming activities that can’t be done while running the game.

World Building

Deals with techniques and Knowledge that Populate the setting, world, or provides backdrop or background to the game. Warfare, Politics, Economics, Technology, Culture, Language, etc… default under this category.


Deals with methodologies of training, studying, and improving one’s “game”.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

World Building as we Play

There is more World Building Tools and Settings than the market can explore, learn, use, and share. That at this point everyone is making worlds and making tools to allow us to make worlds. The more difficult challenge is World Building Collaboration in a reciprocal and personal level.
To differentiate this from the collaboration done to populate a setting, there is collaboration where in we experience the affect of other games or other stories in our immersion as well as we play.

Shared Worlds and Living Settings

Living Settings would have been this reciprocal and personally involved collaborative world building but is has not yet fully developed and matured to meet such goals. Among its many challenges any community with a setting ultimately fractures and cannot sustain the connections over time. Pretty much it suffers the problems of transitioning from an Organization to an institution. As An institution it would have a core set of processes, goals, and methodologies in dealing with issues and conflicts with its goals. As an institution it would have greater levels of cohesion.

While this is going to require a lot of steps and skills to bridge the RPG community to an RPG institution, I'll think about this a little bit more. Particularly what are the trade-offs of the Institution-like qualities it will need to be a collaborative process in such as the scale of several Game Tables.

World Building as We Play. 

One set of Tools in World Building I've only heard about but not has fully developed is the Build as we Play model. Particularly tools that Facilitate Collaborative World-building as we Play amidst a session and not after or before we begin the story.
I dont mean a front loaded preparation process, instead we have the  tools that facilitates quick building of the many consequences and iterations of a particular aspect of a world. That when a Player introduces an Element of the Setting - it takes an elevator pitch or a 1-2 min spiel by which he alters the reality of the game and change the setting. Unleashing this idea into the world doesn't mean it gets to be dictated by that player solely - the other players set Scope, Constraints, Mindset, and Unintended consequences of what one Player has set upon the world (see Gamer Skills Counterpoint Technique).

My Hypothesis Process:
  1. The game begins with 3 key assumptions about the setting all the players agree on. 
    1. Recommendation: 3 criteria assumptions
      1. Timeline. Example Ancient (specific ex. Axial Age, Mythical Age, Proto-Civilization age, Dark Ages, Low Medieval Age, Enlightenment, etc... )
      2. Realism (called Austerity by Kenneth Hite in GURPS Horror; His definition is one of the best thought out and worded ones around) . Mythical, Fantastic, Sorcerous (magic that has a lot of limits  and  scarcity), Heroic, Gritty etc...
      3. Scale-Scope. Scale is how much of the actions and consequences ripple out in the setting, and Scope is what the Players can directly affect. (another thing discussed by Kenneth Hite in GURPS horror). 
  2. As they create characters and fill in their backstories, they talk about the world and the setting. This is when they introduce elements like: Magic, or Magical Items, Lost Artifacts, Lost Technology, Psionics, Aliens, Other beings, Wars, Treasure, etc... 
  3. The other Players Modify these elements as the Player tells the back story. So while one player takes 2-3 minutes talking about his background the other players modify the: Scope, Constraints, Knowledge/Ignorance/Misinformation/Common Practice, Attitudes, and Unintended Consequences of that Setting Element. (see Gamer Skills Counterpoint Technique). each player can have a turn in modifying.
    This means the player building his character will work in feedback from the other players as they collaboratively build the world as they play. 
  4. repeat 

Setting Elements

The next step would be making setting elements like Manorial vs Specialized, Republic, Empires, Scientific Method, Various kinds of Status Quo, Communism, Theocracy, Capitalism, Liberalism, Fascism, etc.. Drawing from various "Civics" (from Civ 5) about cultural and institutional constructs.

Making these elements modular, where the Setting Impact will be spelled out and how it affects individuals and societies made into a formula or mechanic (a way to simplify the huge mental load such Elements of the Settings reality).

Yes &/But

Heuristic. Adapt most feedback to Yes and or Yes but. This tests the Improvisation and collaboration Skill.
A well known technique in Improvisation discussed at length in Happy Jacks and other more Narrative Driven Gming Styles.


Heuristic. Alter someone's contribution with Yes And/But/Or with the following ways
  • Scope,
  • Constraints (ex. Scaricity, rarity, costs, time, availability, utility, etc…)
  • Mindset (which is Knowledge/Ignorance/Misinformation/Common Practice/Attitudes regarding what people think or feel about this; Example its taboo, its a mistaken assumption, no one knows that its wrong and its really something else, etc...), and
  • Unintended Consequences

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Methodology Upgrade: Formula, Definitions, Example, and Anki Deck

I updated the Gaming List  document to be more actionable. Basically i now added a methodology section as to state how it go about it. My methodology improvement is inspired by my Chinese studies as Grammar and Sentence building is formulaic just like how many narrative techniques are formulaic.

Note that It would take me a 2-3 hour uninterrupted writing session just to update all of this, among all the distractions I'm juggling. So you're going to have to wait a long while before I input: Narrative Combat Techniques - Heuristics and Procedures so that the gamers can best describe Combat in as fewer words and as little time, while maximizing its effect and engagement. These next tools is designed to educate and train ME (or any other gamer who wants to collaborate) to be able to describe action scenes (i'm drawing from my favorite authors Christian Cameron's and Bernard Cornwell's simpler techniques that I can formulate).

After reading all those books on Gaming, some have processes, few books give Actionable knowledge beyond the most basic Technique: Yes and/but/or... I will hope to correct that and give gamers Framing, Narrative, Influence, Inquiry, Analysis, Ideation, and Problem Solving procedural techniques for their game. These are techniques meant to be learned like a language - recalled and formulated without thought because of the Spaced Repetition System and Active Recall exercises.


The methodology is written so that:
  • Collaborators can feedback
    • Corrections,
    • Identify steps, sequences, or elements that have reliability or risk issues.
    • to improve on the methodology
  • Collaborators can use the same methodology

Formula, Definition, and Examples

The formula, a grammar like algorithm, will be given and its elements given definitions. In this way, like Grammar, it is a procedural processes that can be exercised and trained. Gamers who want to get better can try to exercise plugging in variables of the algorithm and working them into a narrative or descriptive or immersive exposition.

Actionable Knowledge

Giver readers action and a way to adapt to feedback and new information. Action first, then we discuss the theory where supporting experience, knowledge, and information can be organized along the theory for analysis and evaluation.
  1. Untestable Thesis
  2. Echo Chamber or Circle Jerks

Study Time

As each of these techniques are exercisable, they all depend on the use of Active recall.  

Anki Deck of GMing Skills

There will be an Ankideck for this created so that gamers can work on this. The Methodology of Formula, Definition, and Examples allow that Spaced Repetition System and Cards can be created to exercise these techniques.

Challenges for the Anki Deck

  • Random Elements. The knowledge presented here is best used with randomly generated elements that can be filled into the formula’s variables.
    • Interim solution. There are many random word generators that can be used along side the anki deck. The Gaming Skills deck can be physical (as index cards) and the phone can just host the random element generators.  


Core Skills and Heuristics are those that are prioritized, as it has the most utility/usability and reward for the time spent learning them. The differentiation of Heuristics and Skills is so that end-users can break down a skill into component heuristics they can train in, and bundle into a skill for the future.


Heuristics are simple formulas or processes. Typically they are:
  • one or two testable statements (see also falsifiability),
    Example would be
    • What limited resource is spent by the action?
  • a condition and action,  
    Example would be
    • Listen to the (other)players and say “Yes and/but/or…”


Skills are more complicated heuristics that are linked or chunked together.
Examples are
  • Pacing,
  • Active Listening
  • Planning

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Touch Time and Value Adding to Ideas in RPG Collaboration

There is a concept of Touch Time in Lean Six Sigma time and Motion Studies (Aka processing time). Its brilliant and simple way of measuring waste. Its basically the actual time the worker is touching the product in a value adding way. Its such a revelation to me because it applies to Ideas and Information and not just materials.

Am I adding value to the idea?
Is my GM or the Player adding value to the Idea?
How long am I processing this idea? How much value am I adding to it?

Now its relevance to RPG is how much "touch time" do we have in Mechanics and Ideas? This is exemplified by the GM who creates a lot of Fluff and how much of that fluff is "touched" by the Player's minds. How much of that fluff is handled by the Players.
Like in Touch Time studies its as simple as who has Known the Idea and remembered that idea, and who it matters more.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Biases/Criteria of RPG Review, Looking for Feedback

I've been ask to review an RPG and I realized that this Criteria I have is worth publishing for feedback.
All review is subject to the Bias of the Individual who is reveiwing it, but that reviewer has to be able to think of the market or audience the product is trying to address and must be constructive in that consideration.

My Criteria/Biases/Values are for feedback and adapting to new information.

I dont think one is supposed to score 100% in the reviewer's Criteria, instead they have to score 100% in their Goals and their Model of their Target Audience/Market. The review has to try to objectively assess if it makes this call.

There will be definitey Stupid sounding questions as this progresses.

Again I'm biased in the use of a Collaborative Project Documenation Sheet. Where it is easy to put all supporting links and the specific ideas being discussed.

Biases or Criteria of the Reviewer

  • Focuses on Limiting Scope of Learned TRPG Mechanics, or careful and calculated introduction of mechanics. 
    • Updated 4/18/2017 - more specifically how the Designers count the amount of mental load it asks of its Players and GM. 
    • Updated 4/19/2017 - the 20 rules of formulating knowledge is a great guideline in game design when there is an expectation of people following or learning the game system. 
  • Focus on how the system improves on GM-Player Collaboration. This means if the game system improves or aids in the sharing of narrative or creating a way for collaborative complicated escallation is resolved through collaboration (and the use of a Randomizer). 
  • Focus on methodology, how does the system or the game designer try to prepare a GM or player to get into TRPGs. What is the Designers’ methodology and what are their values? How do they allocate their competing constraints (utility/quality - cost - time) . 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. The document will involve a growing definition of terms we can agree on. 
  • Looking for the self-aware nature of the Designer’s Products as compared to market trends and drawing from best practices from other disciplines.  
  • Looking for Feedback Mechanism - how does the Knowledge base react to and adapt to feedback? 
    • 4/18/2017 Updated. You may examine my methodlogy and criteria to see if it is in your best interests. Otherwise if it  isn’t we can alter it. 

Methodology of the Reviewer. 

  • Once a Week updates. (i’ll try)
  • About 100-200 words of review. 
  • Typically in the form of clarifying questions. 
  • As I match Goals to Execution and Implementation, 
  • How the proponent handles competing constraints (utility/quality/value, cost, time) and my other criteria
  •  Answers are tracked and allocated to either:
  • Clarification of Goals
  • Tracking of Constraints, Methodology, and Issues. 
  • This all serves as a Project Documentation so that if anything happens anyone else can pick up where it left off. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

80% Storytelling Techniques, and 20% system mechanics

Its easy to progress in Game mechanics since there are so many to learn, but the Collaborative Storytelling, Preparation, and Session Running seems to have a greater weight per Scene than mechanics.
What I mean as per Scene is the elements that build up right before "What do you do?" part until the scene is resolved (ideally we have enough of a transitional pause to jot down 20 seconds of notes).

  • Various Framing Techniques (frame a loss, risk, gain, strawman, steelman, etc...), 
  • Show not Tell, 
  • Counterpoint Sandwich (like a compliment sandwich but with either buns as counterpoints or the middle is the counterpoint), 
  • 3 contrasting descriptors, 
  • Action not Adverbs, 
  • 20-30% sensory narrative (in words or gm talk time; this means that when the GM narrates he narrates 80-70% in visual and makes sure he dashes it with other sensory narratives), 
  • Yes And/But/Or, 
  • Listening and Collaboration (as an exercise this would mean listening for 2 minutes and having to make good notes related to that; and as part of collaboration infer all the other goals and constraints of the speaker), 
  • etc.. is not given as much emphasis.
    If it was a GM screen it would be 80% of the space, and mechanics would be 20%. 

It reminds me of Grammar Cards for Language Learning Anki Cards- its a formula and there are randomly generated elements (nouns, verbs, descriptors) the Learner has to work into the formula.

I can imagine a Anki Card for Counterpoint Sandwich asking for me to Work in Cat, Watch, Coughing, Redish, Quickly and GO! Conditioning the brain till it can improve on the most subtle mentions of the other person.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Index Card RPG

I've discussed Index Cards as a key tool for RPGs before. I've not had the inspiration or the framework to make a fairly complete system until I saw +Matthew Isom's post of Index Card D&D. This is the resulting product.

What has Changed and Why was I able to do this now?

  1. Mathew Isom's system was great Scaffolding/Framework to start with. 
  2. I learned all that Lean techniques at work inspired me to engineer the system differently. 
  3. I learned to set Goals better, SMARTER,  and various other Analysis and Problem Solving skills have matured to get me through most of my mental blocks.
  4. My Goals Have Changed
    1. GMless is the ideal. But how do we do that? 
      1. First Break it down to Encounters and Scenes (which I've droned on an on about). 
      2. Learn Pacing. This is a Process Heuristic. Knowing how to build up conflict and expectation. An example of a Pacing Structure (this is not the only one)
        1. Work with Assumptions and Expectations. Work them in. Say Yes-and or Yes but! 
        2. Turn those around. Do not let the "Plan survive Initial Contact!" Complicate and Compound. 
        3. Resolve - Through Change, Development, Learning Something new, Coming away with something Different. 
      3. Keep Tight Feedback loops. You can begin with Any Process! There is no wrong answer BUT you need feedbackloops to correct and adjust and adapt. So Start something but COLLABORATE=FEEDBACK. 
        1. Ideas without Feedback is masturbation lolz
    2. FUN AS YOU GO! Do all the stuff while having fun!
      1. Learn as You Go!
      2. Having Fun in the Prep! BUT involving EVERYONE in the Prep!
      3. Have fun making Characters as you go!
      4. Immerse as you go! 
      5. Do the stuff, but the stuff is FUN! 
    3. Give the Players Scaffolding. Things are more fun when we dont have to worry about balance and fairness. 
      1. Give a Benchmark or use a Testable Statement. (the lack of testable statements is why we have bad laws lolz). 
    4. Keep it Short and Simple. 
    5. Leave Room to Collect Feedback! Have a Reference Document to keep track of suggestions and feedback. 
  5. Well I kept track of my failures lolz. Keeping a blog or documenting as I went basically allowed me to be able to say what was different between then and now.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Improvisation hypothesis: Ideation Techniques

So I just finished Unframed by Engine Publishing. Among my other studies (found in the Gaming Skills doc) is that one unifying hypothesis is that Improvisation is similar to mastering a language, process, a song, etc... that the most complicated feats of Improvisation is like a dance or song: mastering chunks of procedural information. My recommendation is taking your favorite or most used Ideation Technique and using it for improvisation. Modifying it so that it can be used to bring out ideas that would color or aid the scene you are collaboratively building with others. 

Improvisation hypothesis: Ideation Techniques

The Improvisation Hypothesis of Ideation Techniques means that We can master ideation and problem solving techniques and use them for improvisation. These techniques when employed Elaborate or Create Blanks to be filled by a certain criteria. We fill in those blanks very quickly through master of the Ideation technique. Mastery, used to master language, where the technique is stored in long term memory and recalled immediately as soon as triggering events occur.

Ideation Techniques Include

Spaced Repetition

Spaced Repetition is important in Improvisation because it is the same technique that allows people to most effectively learn and use language, complicated processes, physical techniques and procedures. Creating the triggering conditions to exercise the Recall that is needed to draw out from Long Term memory the skill, process, or heuristic is key to appear to make a lot out of thin air. This technique requires the forgetting the technique in the conscious level, aka working memory, aka attention and to draw or pull the information under certain conditions in order to create the mental hardwiring to recall.

*again open call for collaborators or feedback.

One of my realizations is Musashi's No Thought technique in his book of 5 rings is the use of Long Term memory (the same memory we use for language) to unleash sophisticated attacks and tactics. The same can be said in improv. We master various Ideation Techniques to be able to create facinating improvisation using the Collaboration of our fellow players.